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Any kind of synopsis feels extremely redundant, but I’ll write one anyway. Anne Frank is a young Jewish girl in hiding in Amsterdam during WWII.
I don’t know how I made it to be 31 years old without reading The Diary of Anne Frank. I’m glad I finally got to it though.
I think Anne’s diary made the Holocaust real to me in a way that other books haven’t because she is a typical teenage girl in a lot of ways. She’s growing up, she dislikes her family and “roommates” one day and adores them the next. She’s dreaming about the future, love, a career, and what she really wants out of life. She was funny, she was sad, she was introspective, she was growing, she was intelligent, she was scared, she was brave. She was a great big bundle of glorious possibilities. I wouldn’t go back to my teenage years, but I remember feeling all the things she describes.
SPOILERS IF YOU SOMEHOW DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK
As I read, especially the older Anne got, I just kept mourning her. I thought she was a talented writer, especially for her age. She had such strong ideas about a woman’s life and career and family. I really felt like, at least in a small way and maybe in a big way, the world lost something special when we lost her. I know that’s the case with all the Holocaust victims, but I just felt it more with Anne since I spent so much time in her head. She had it in her to make a mark on this world. I truly believe that.
I kept reading slower and slower, the closer to the end I got. I knew what was coming, but I somehow felt that if I didn’t read it, it wouldn’t be real. I had sneaked a peek at the page numbers and knew exactly how close I was. I didn’t count on an afterword, so I was so upset when I got to the end of the diary sooner than I expected. “No!” I thought. “I have four more pages with Anne!” Then I read the afterword and my heart broke even more. She was so close to making it through. So very close.
This is such an important book, I hope it is always widely read. It can be easy to think, “Oh the Holocaust happened so long ago and to a different generation.” Anne brings it home and makes us realize that it happened to people just like us.
I gave several recommendations of Holocaust books in last week’s review of Night by Elie Wiesel. Several of you chimed in with recommendations of your own. Here they are.
Kylie from Kylie’s Reads added The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr to the list for younger readers. She also said that the book, Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally (also known as Schindler’s Ark, depending on where you live), was very good. I had only recommended the movie because I hadn’t read the book.