The Diary Of A Young Girl – Anne Frank

Published September 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Anne Frank’s extraordinary diary, written in the Amsterdam attic where she and her family hid from the Nazis for two years, has become a world classic and a timeless testament to the human spirit. Now, in a new edition enriched by many passages originally withheld by her father, we meet an Anne more real, more human, and more vital than ever. Here she is first and foremost a teenage girl—stubbornly honest, touchingly vulnerable, in love with life. She imparts her deeply secret world of soul-searching and hungering for affection, rebellious clashes with her mother, romance and newly discovered sexuality, and wry, candid observations of her companions. Facing hunger, fear of discovery and death, and the petty frustrations of such confined quarters, Anne writes with adult wisdom and views beyond her years. Her story is that of every teenager, lived out in conditions few teenagers have ever known.

What did I think?:

The Diary Of A Young Girl is one of those pieces of non fiction that occupies a very special place in my heart. I’ve read it a few times now at different points in my life through my adolescence right through to adulthood and each time I’ve managed to get something unique out of each reading experience. It’s not a five star read for me and that’s only because, I have to be honest, I do find parts of Anne’s diary a bit slower than others but it earns a rightful place on my favourites shelf because of what it’s given me over the years. Over this past year, I’ve challenged myself to a little experiment where I have a current read, a work of non fiction and a favourite re-read on the go at the one time. I set this challenge for myself as I realised I have a host of non fiction books on my shelves that just aren’t getting read and that I need to get round to, whilst also realising that with all the exciting new releases coming in, I don’t get a chance to re-read the books on my favourite shelves. The Diary Of A Young Girl is one of my all-time favourites and after this latest re-read, definitely deserves to keep its spot on the shelf.

Anne Frank, the author of the diary entries put into a collection by her father, Otto Frank.

If you haven’t managed to get round to reading this book yet (and I feel like it should be required reading in ALL schools!), Anne Frank is a young girl from a Jewish family who is forced to go into hiding with her parents, sister and another family when the Nazis descend upon their town and begin to remove all people of the Jewish faith to camps and ghettos, basically sealing their fate to one of misery, poverty, disease and in far too many scenarios, death. Assisted by some friends, the two families are ensconced in a Secret Annex concealed from the world by means of a bookcase which opened onto their tiny living quarters where they were forced to hide for two years. Most of the time they had to exist in complete silence because of the workers in the office below or the proximity of the other houses to their own space. Discovery of the family would result in deportation and execution of all those that hid there and of those that helped them evade the authorities so playing by the rules of the house, being as quiet as possible and desperately awaiting the end of the war became normal life for the families that lived there.

Reconstruction of the bookcase that hid the doorway to The Secret Annex.

Image from: By Bungle – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4132164

As I mentioned earlier on in my review, I’ve managed to extract something different from each experience I’ve had reading The Diary Of A Young Girl. Reading it as a teenager, I felt strangely close to Anne and I felt a well of emotions being stirred up regarding the horrific situation she finds herself in, her normal feelings as a young teenager herself (particularly about boys!) and those awkward adolescent moments where the hormones are raging and you feel yourself developing into a woman coupled with the confusion that often accompanies these thoughts and feelings. Having to cope with all of this whilst living in such close quarters with her family, another family and having no means of escape left me feeling so uncomfortable and sorry for Anne that at times, I had to silently applaud her for her tenacity, humour and bravery that is clearly apparent and so endearing throughout her diary entries.

On my latest reading of this book, I got even more than I ever could have expected from it emotionally speaking and that’s because I had the good fortune to visit Amsterdam about eight years ago and more specifically, the house and Secret Annex where Anne Frank was hidden. It was an experience I will never, ever forget, especially when I saw how small their quarters actually were. It was frightening to think that eight people had to live in such a small space and I couldn’t stop saying to my partner how unbelievable it was that they could survive in those cramped, overcrowded conditions for so long and all parties managed to keep their sanity. However, there are two stand-out points that I take away from Diary Of A Young Girl that I find particularly heart-breaking. The first is that Anne’s story does NOT have a happy ending and it’s especially hard to read, knowing this and seeing her joyful optimism for the end of the war, having a normal life and realising her dreams of becoming a writer. This leads me onto the second point – Anne is quite obviously a hugely talented writer. Her diary entries are succinct, empowering, beautiful, raw and so very authentic and it’s devastating to think of what she could have done in her life if she had been given the chance to see the end of the war and become an adult. Even writing about it now makes me feel so emotional and it’s definitely a book I’ll be re-visiting in the future, it’s too important not to.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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28 comments on “The Diary Of A Young Girl – Anne Frank

  • Fantastic review of such an important and wonderful book! I’ve actually only read it once, that’s so interesting that you say it’s meant something different to you with every reading. I think it deserves a reread. Loved hearing your thoughts on it!

  • I loved what you said about her talent as a writer, especially for the age she was. It got me all emotional too. I also love that you shared your memories from different times reading this book and how you related to it in different ways. This is a book I cherish, too, and I think I’m due for a re-read. Lovely review, Beth! ♥️

  • I read this book many years ago at school. I also had the opportunity to visit Anne Frank’s House during a school trip, I was 11at the time. The book and the house made an impression and will stay with me. This is a fabulous review ♥️

  • I read this book in school, and again several times as a teacher. It’s a wonderful book to read with middle schoolers because they can so easily relate to her and better understand what was happening in our world at that time. My favorite version is actually an adapted play which I read with students reading the different parts. I was also lucky enough to visit the Anne Frank house on my visit to Amsterdam; a profoundly moving experience.
    May I ask why you only gave it 4 stars?

    • Of course! I was torn between 4 and 5 stars, I have to admit. However I feel like some parts of the diary were a bit slower and I didn’t connect as well with them than other parts. It was a hard decision as I do believe it deserves five stars as a whole but if there’s the slightest doubt in my mind about certain points I have to be honest with my rating. I would still never get rid of it and it’s an all time favourite book of mine and on a re-read I might change my rating in the future but for the time I read it, it was a very strong 4-4.5 star rating. I love that you’ve had experience teaching this book as well, that must have been wonderful, especially the adapted play which I now really want to read!

      • Thanks for responding. I am an easy grader and also generous with my reviews.
        My school had a set of 6 of the book as a play and it was very accessible for my below grade students. As a reading specialist, I always wanted to give them challenging books that they could still be successful with.

      • That sounds wonderful, such a rewarding job. It’s great that you can set them challenging books like this that will still have an impact on them and that they will enjoy. 😊 My sister is a primary school teacher and has got many children into reading who previously haven’t enjoyed/ haven’t been as successful as others at it and I see how happy she is when one of her children learns to love books. I hope I haven’t offended you in any way with my four star rating, it’s a hugely important book but because I review so many books, I think ratings are a very personal thing. Any other time I might have given it five stars. 🙂

      • No offense at all. I only asked because the review was so positive and my affinity for this book is clearly coming in to play. I appreciate your reviews, it was only a question. I hope it wasn’t offensive to ask.
        As you know from your sister, helping a reluctant reader love books is a huge win. I have so many incredible success stories from teaching students who otherwise weren’t successful, from watching a brand new reader see the magic of putting sounds together to make a word all the way to 8th grade students who were new to our country and new to English reading books by Steinbeck and understanding them. 💙

      • Not at all, it’s always lovely to talk about books especially my favourites with people who love them as much as I do. Just wanted to check nothing I said offended you, how very British of me! 😂 That’s a fantastic achievement with your reluctant readers, I see the work my sister does and really admire the work teachers put in that is so often under appreciated! ☹️

      • I also love talking books, and of course reading them. 😊
        I actually felt very appreciated in my work by the children, their parents, and their classroom teachers. I now live 1000 miles from the school where I taught and still often hear from parents and former students who are now adults.
        I was visiting Chicago last week and one of the families had me over for dinner. So fun to reminisce with a former student who is now a college freshman.

  • I feel like reading The Diary of a Young Girl is a rite of passage for teenagers, and I must have re-read it at least half a dozen times between the ages of 10 and 16. I’m actually really hesitant to go back and revisit it now, I’m worried that I won’t enjoy it as much as I remember or I’ll feel differently about it having learned more about the world and WWII (as inevitably happens with age). I would definitely re-read it if I had an opportunity to visit her Annex, though, as you did – what an incredible experience!!

    • I was worried too Sheree but I got so much out of it reading it as an adult! It’s always a concern though, especially when you have such fond memories of a book. The Annex was definitely an experience I’ll never forgot – so emotional! 😔

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