I'm currently going through a phase of reading classic books. So far I've done 1984, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice & Men, and I have To Kill a Mockingbird waiting in the wings. As part of this I also picked up Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young Girl.
I obviously knew the story, that a family hid in a room away from the Nazi's because they were Jewish, and eventually they got caught and killed. But that's all I knew. I'd been warned it was a tear jerker, and that kind of put me off it, because I hate anything soppy and sentimental. My usual book fare is horror, and to be honest I'm not really sure what made me buy it. I think I'd heard of it and it probably just popped up in my recommended or 'other people who bought this also bought' list.
So when I first started reading the book, my first impressions were of a precocious young girl who had very high opinions of herself. And to be honest I didn't like her very much. But as the nights went on, and I continued to read, I found myself looking forward to spending some time with her, to finding out how her days had been going, and what she'd been up to.
She goes into great detail of how they had to live, what they were eating, how they were bathing, and brings the characters around her to life. She tells us about the interactions between them, and the hopes and fears of both the adults and children who were hiding out in the attic rooms. She also tells us about the people who were hiding them, and about their lives too. Her sister Margot sounds exceptionally intelligent, beautiful and kind.
And actually I didn't find it a tear jerker at all while I was reading it. Anne was very candid about her feelings regarding her situation and the people around her, and most of the time she tried her very best to remain positive. When I was getting to the end of the book I was nervous that it was going to get sad or dramatic, but it wasn't like that at all. It was almost like someone stopping talking half way through a sentence. And for me that's incredibly poignant.
The thing that I find hardest to cope with, after having read it, and what has actually made me cry is that they were so CLOSE to freedom! There was only a month to go before the liberation of the camp that Margot and Anne were in when they died of Typhus. I find that desperately sad.
Her father Otto spoke about Anne and her diary in this video:
Someone who has visited the rooms where she lived wrote a blog post about it, and took photos. The link to that post is HERE
Actually when I was Annes age, I kept a diary too. It wasn't anywhere near as well written as hers, she had ambitions to be a writer or a journalist, and it shows. But nonetheless it was my diary and I used it much the same way as she did, to work through my life and get my thoughts in order. So I can relate to her in that way, and I understand how helpful her diary must have been to her.
Of all the books I've read (and it's a very big number), I don't think there's been one for a long time that's touched me so deeply, or affected me so greatly. Obviously I knew about the Holocaust and the ethnic cleansing that happened in the Second World War, but I didn't know those people, and sadly it's human nature to have difficulty in finding great empathy when you don't know the people. Anne changed all that for me.
It's the one book I think everyone should read.
So go and read it, please. I bought mine from Amazon and it wasn't expensive. Knowing what I know now about it, I'd have paid ten times the price and still felt like I'd got it too cheap. If I gain one iota of her strength of character I count myself a very lucky person.
Until next time...
MASPOOASE x x x