Classics

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Banned Books 2019 – NOVEMBER READ – To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Published December 30, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the eleventh banned book in our series for 2019! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

But back to this month….

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

First published: 1960

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2011 (source)

Reasons: offensive language, racism

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all-time favourite classics and so advance warning – I might be slightly biased towards it. In attempting to look at it with a critical eye, this novel has been challenged even since its release in 1960. Reasons for banning it include the reasons above, the theme of rape and the fact that it made some people feel “uncomfortable.” It is true that there are problems with the novel, we are hearing the point of view of a white narrator and a white father who swoops in and saves the day. However for me, it was one of the first book that reminded me that no-one should be treated differently, regardless of their colour or beliefs. So no, I don’t think it ever should have been challenged or banned, especially as late on as 2011.

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I am biased towards this book because it is one of my favourite books. I didn’t read it at school, but took it upon myself to read it for pleasure not long after I finished school at 15. I’m so pleased I did because it’s one I frequently re-read as I love it so much. I don’t believe that it should have been challenged or banned because I think it’s a highly educative book. I understand that some themes may have made people uncomfortable, but is that a reason to challenge it? I don’t think so.

How about now?

BETH: James LaRue, the director of American Library Association’s Office For Intellectual Freedom is unconvinced by some of the challenges that have been posed against this novel stating: “the whole point of classics is they challenge the way we think about things,” and I must whole-heartedly agree. The novel does go into some dark places with some abhorrent attitudes which does make for difficult reading at times. However, it is through reading that we learn, understand and develop a wider view on important issues. Reading about these issues has been such an eye-opening experience throughout my life so far and I would hate for that opportunity to be taken away from anyone else because of a challenge or ban.

CHRISSI: Like I mentioned, I think books like this are educative. I think they make the reader think about their own worldview. We can challenge what we read. If everything is censored, then we can’t have our thinking challenged and I think that’s dangerous! Everyone should have the opportunity to read things that make us think.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I gave this novel 5 out of 5 stars on my last re-read (review available on my blog) and I think it’s always going to have a special place in my heart. I haven’t read Go Set A Watchman yet (I do realise there were some major issues and controversies about this follow-up to Mockingbird) but for the moment, I’ll live in blissful ignorance and enjoy To Kill A Mockingbird for the classic that it is.

CHRISSI: This is one of my favourite books, so of course I loved it. It will always be a special book to me. 🙂

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

BETH’s personal star rating (out of 5):

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COMING UP IN DECEMBER ON BANNED BOOKS: Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2019 – OCTOBER READ – Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Published November 23, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Twelve stories about animals, insects, and other subjects include How the Camel Got His Hump. The Butterfly That Stamped, and How the Alphabet Was Made.

What did I think?:

Apologies for the late posting of our kid-lit once again. Chrissi and I are so busy at the moment that we’re struggling to find time to keep up to date with this but we’re determined to finish our series this year. Interestingly, Just So Stories is I think, going to be quite a difficult book to review for us both. Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) Kipling’s Jungle Book which is a classic of children’s literature – much like Just So Stories. However, with some exceptions within this collection, I found myself skim reading some of the stories here and not enjoying them as much as I hoped I would have done. This is my second reading of the collection and a few stories were very familiar and enjoyable however, I couldn’t recall the vast majority of them which made me wonder if I had skim read the others on the first reading, just like this second experience!

Rudyard Kipling, author of Just So Stories

I really do love the sentiment behind why Kipling developed this collection. The first few started out as bedtime stories for his daughter Effie who liked them told “just so” without changing sentences or missing out necessary information. It consists of mainly stories of how animals got to be the way they are today and in this collection, they were either changed by other animals, human beings or by magical entities. For example, the crocodile who was responsible for how the elephant got his trunk, the man who was responsible for the whale’s throat (and in turn is the reason for why these huge creatures only eat small prey) and the djinn who gives the camel a hump as punishment for his refusal to work.

In practice, as a huge animal lover, this book sounds like a perfect read and to be honest, I do think the idea of how each animal evolved is entertaining and very charming. However, I just didn’t connect with a few stories and the writing style didn’t capture my attention and make me want to read on. I’ve read that in some editions of this book, Kipling has illustrated it himself and I feel that would have been an added bonus that I would have appreciated in the edition I read and may have even led to a slightly higher rating! However I have to be honest and just admit that the majority of this book probably wasn’t for me. There are a few stand-out stories like the above mentioned tale about the elephant and one entitled The Cat That Walked By Himself which has always been a favourite of mine. Overall though, I just couldn’t find enough enthusiasm to enjoy these tales as much as I’m sure the multitude of Kipling fans will.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her post HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

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COMING UP IN NOVEMBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT – The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

Banned Books 2019 – OCTOBER READ – The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Published November 18, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A nineteenth-century boy from a Mississippi River town recounts his adventures as he travels down the river with a runaway slave, encountering a family involved in a feud, two scoundrels pretending to be royalty, and Tom Sawyer’s aunt who mistakes him for Tom.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the ninth banned book in our series for 2019! Apologies for the late posting of this review, life has been quite hectic for both of us recently. As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

NOVEMBER: To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

But back to this month….

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

First published: 1884

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2002 (source)

Reasons: offensive language

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH:  I can probably speak for my sister right now and confirm that Huckleberry Finn was a bit of a tricky book for us both to read and analyse. Full disclosure right now – I didn’t manage to finish it so this post is being written without having read to the end. I can only report back on the small portion that I did manage to read. Personally, I think that the reasoning for challenging or banning should be a little more specific – in my opinion, “offensive language” is slightly vague and does not get to the real heart of the matter that this book covers. After a little internet searching and my limited experience of the book,

I found it was mainly the racist terms/attitudes and the dialect used by the main character that were most offensive. As someone who finds these kind of things abhorrent obviously I don’t agree with it but I can also understand that this book is probably a product of its time. Not that it makes it acceptable, it doesn’t! However, I think we still need to read about the past to appreciate where we need to be in the future.

CHRISSI: This was a struggle to read and finish. Like Beth, I didn’t manage to finish this book and found myself skim reading. For me, I found the racist attitudes hard to read and it made me uncomfortable. Therefore from that side of things, I do understand why this book might be challenged. Although I think it’s more likely to be challenged nowadays when the type of language isn’t seen as acceptable.

How about now?

BETH: This novel was challenged/banned as recently as 2002 which makes me believe that some readers are quite rightly upset by its contents – particularly the language that is used. As a white person, I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to fully appreciate how upsetting that might be but I can acknowledge why people would be offended. From my point of view, I think if a book is presented in the right way i.e. taught that this kind of language is no longer acceptable then those studying it can always learn something from it to build a better future without racism or discrimination. I think everyone should have access to all literature – no matter what the issue, purely for the chance to learn. If things are hidden away or restricted, understanding abhorrent attitudes will be slightly more difficult.

CHRISSI: I can totally understand why this book has been challenged in recent times. The language used is completely offensive. However, I agree with Beth, if this book is used to examine how things used to be- then I can totally see its worth. I know many people have enjoyed this book, so there’s surely something about it!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Unfortunately as mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, I didn’t get on with Huckleberry Finn. It wasn’t that I was offended by the language – although some of the attitudes did make me cross but I found it slow and difficult to read. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters or feel invested in the plot.

CHRISSI: I wasn’t a fan of it. I didn’t finish it because I found it difficult to read. It hasn’t been the first time I’ve tried to read this book. I see so many people loving this book and it’s really not for me. I just can’t get into the plot, no matter how hard I try!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Not sure.

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!

BETH’s personal star rating (out of 5):

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COMING UP IN NOVEMBER ON BANNED BOOKS: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2019 – SEPTEMBER READ – I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

Published October 29, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink…’

This is the diary of Cassandra Mortmain, which tells of her extraordinary family and their crumbling castle home. Cassandra’s father was once a famous writer, but now he mainly reads detective novels while his family slide into genteel poverty. Her sister Rose is bored and beautiful, and desperate to marry riches. Their step-mother Topaz has habit of striding through the countryside wearing only her wellington boots. But all their lives will be soon be transformed by the arrival of new neighbours from America, and Cassandra finds herself falling in love…

What did I think?:

Apologies for the late posting of our September kid-lit! Both Chrissi and I have been so busy with normal life events that it’s been difficult to read, write and schedule our regular monthly posts. I am however looking forward to telling you all about my experience of I Capture The Castle as it’s been a book that has languished on my shelves for some years now and I never seem to have had the time or will to get round to reading it before now. As you can see from the image above in my post, this particular edition was too gorgeous to resist and once I saw it, I knew I had to have it. What can I say? I’m a sucker for pretty books. Did the inside match the inside? Generally, yes but to be perfectly honest, I think I would have benefited from reading this book a lot earlier in my life, perhaps as a young teenager.

Dodie Smith, author of I Capture The Castle.

I Capture The Castle is quintessentially, a coming of age story that follows our female protagonist, Cassandra and her journal entries as she attempts to capture on paper both the castle that she lives in, and the everyday life of its inhabitants and the people that come to visit. We hear in glorious detail about the eccentricities of her step-mother Topaz, an artist’s model who prefers to be nude rather than clothed, a quirk that is absorbed quite normally into daily life within the castle. Then there is Cassandra’s older sister Rose, who is determined to marry and lift herself out of the poverty that the family has become accustomed to, no matter if she loves the man in question or not. One of the most interesting characters for me was the father, a famous author who wrote one successful book and has had writers block ever since, mostly isolating himself from the rest of the household and enjoying detective stories and crossword puzzles. Finally, we learn about Stephen who is not related to the rest of the family but is a son of a former servant and the younger brother, Thomas who plays a rather quieter role in the proceedings.

There were so many things to like about this novel and I guess that’s why I’m struggling with my rating slightly. I adored the setting – mid 1930’s England and of course, the castle which almost becomes a character in its own right. Alongside this, the “human” characters of the piece were drawn wonderfully. They were such an eclectic, interesting mix and I never felt as if I could predict what any one of them might do next. Occasionally, they were infuriating and I didn’t understand why they made the choices they did but for myself as a reader, it was an endlessly fascinating voyage of discovery. I don’t really have any particular criticisms to make, there’s nothing very much to dislike at all and as a debut novel, it’s an extraordinary piece of work.

The reason I’ve plumped for the rating that I have (and believe me, I’ve been back and forth between three stars and four) is that at points, I loved everything Dodie Smith was doing – particularly with the characterisation. At other points, I didn’t connect with it as much as I would have liked and it felt as if I was waiting for something that didn’t end up materialising. I fully believe that if I had read it when I was younger, I would have got so much more from the experience and my rating would have been higher but reading it for the first time as an adult? It was a case of right book, wrong time. This does NOT take away from the fact that it’s a wonderful read that I would highly recommend.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP ON OCTOBER IN BETH AND CHRISSI DO KIT-LIT: Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2019 – JUNE READ – What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

Published July 10, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Stubborn and reckless, twelve-year-old Katy Carr really wants to do so many wonderful things in her life. (becoming a graceful young lady is just one of them!). But her quick temper and mischievous nature are making it extremely difficult, and a serious accident that leaves her paralyzed temporarily puts everything on hold.
During a long period of recovery, Katy learns gentle lessons in behavior from her invalid cousin, Helen, who inspires Katy with her kindness, beauty, and generosity. Determined to become more like Helen, Katy endures physical and emotional pain while learning some difficult lessons in the school of life.
Fans of Little Women and Anne of Green Gables will enjoy reading this unforgettable tale of a spunky heroine who learns patience and responsibility as a teenager growing up in nineteenth-century America.

What did I think?:

First of all, apologies for this review being up so late if you happen to have been waiting for it. Chrissi and I read What Katy Did for our Kid-Lit challenge with full intentions to post it at the end of June but unfortunately our busy lives got in the way and we had to delay it slightly. Luckily, I could wax lyrical about this book to anyone who will listen to me as it remains a firm favourite of mine, so I was in no fear of forgetting what it was all about. I’ve read What Katy Did more times that I can possibly imagine as both a child and an adult and whilst parts of the writing are very much “of that time,” and appear slightly dated, it still holds every bit of its original charm as when I first read it many years ago.

Sarah Chauncey Woolsey who wrote under the pen name Susan Coolidge.

There are a few different classics that will always have a special place in my heart and What Katy Did, originally published all the way back in 1872 is one of those rare treats that feels so comforting and familiar every time I pick it up. What makes it so delightful? Mainly Katy herself! As a child, I think Katy Carr was one of the very few female leads I came across that I identified with and admired so fervently. As the eldest child, she has a lot of responsibility for her younger siblings but can’t help but find herself in the most awkward of situations, led by her determination, independence and occasional clumsiness. The wonderful thing about Katy is that she feels things ever so deeply, especially when she knows she’s made a mistake or let someone down and she tries so hard to be a better person and learn from her transgressions.

The Carr children lost their mother when Katy was very young and have been raised primarily by their Aunt Izzy with more distant (yet still loving) support from their father. Aunt Izzy can be seen as quite a prickly, particular character and has very specific ideas about how children should behave. Our poor female lead Katy has quite a difficult relationship with her at the beginning of the novel as although she tries to take a motherly role for the other children, she keeps unwittingly getting things wrong or disappointing her aunt. It’s only when Katy goes through a devastating incident herself and meets up with her Cousin Helen who is sadly, in a similar situation that Katy’s real journey as a person begins and she learns the true meaning of being “good.”

This book warms my heart every time I have the pleasure of reading it. As I’ve become an adult and perhaps more cynical, I have to admit, I don’t see it through the same rose-tinted glasses that I used to. Occasionally, it can get quite preachy (which I’m not sure is completely necessary). However, I wouldn’t say that affects my enjoyment of the story in any way. The brilliance of Katy as a character, the messes she gets into, the things she does that she regrets and the little lessons she learns along the way are all entertaining to read about. Furthermore, the familiarity of the narrative is always welcome – I always finish What Katy Did feeling uplifted, hopeful and content.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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COMING UP IN JULY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone.

Book Tag – Shelfie By Shelfie #12

Published October 10, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

Here are the other Shelfies I’ve done: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  7 8 9 10 and 11.

Anyway – on with the tag, it’s time for the first shelf of my second bookshelf and we’re looking at the bottom part of the image i.e. not the top shelf with the monkey bookends (which was covered in Shelfie by Shelfie 11!).

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

Like the top shelf, some of these books are mine but most of them are Mr B’s. He’s read through a lot of these titles but is determined to keep them even if there’s no chance he’ll read them again in the future. Well, with my book collection I can’t really complain, can I?! 😀

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

Ahhh, I do have a special book on this shelf. It’s one of the very first books I bought Mr B when our relationship had just started and it’s because he’s a big fan of the Perry Bible Fellowship cartoons by Nicholas Gurewitch. The book is called The Trial Of Colonel Sweeto And Other Stories and is a collection of some of his best comic strips. I actually emailed the author to ask if there was a collection available so I could buy it for Mr B and he sent me the loveliest email back. For this reason I’ll always treasure this book a little bit. I’ll just slot in an example of one of my favourite cartoons – beware, they’re slightly mature so perhaps not appropriate for very young readers!

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Sadly, that would have to be NW by Zadie Smith. I’ve tried a few of Zadie Smith’s books now and I don’t know what it is but I just don’t get on with her writing style. I can appreciate she’s a good writer of course but something just doesn’t gel with me. Mr B is a bit more of a fan so the only reason this is still on my shelves is that he still has to read it.

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

It would be Lord Of The Flies by William Golding. It’s one of my favourite classics and I need to save it from this shelf anyway as it should be on my favourites shelf – oopsie!

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

Hmmm. *goes off to take a closer look.* Okay, I think that would be Teach Yourself Complete Italian (part of the Teach Yourself range). Mr B bought it for me just before we visited Rome (and Italy) for the very first time. I had all good intentions of starting to teach myself as I’m slightly obsessed with Italy but for some reason, have just never got around to it!

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

I think that would be Waiting For Doggo by Mark Mills. I believe I won this one in a Goodreads giveaway and still haven’t had the chance to get round to reading it yet. I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve read it yourself?

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

In The Light Of What We See by Sarah Painter. I keep looking at this book and meaning to put it on my TBR and…you’ve guessed it, it keeps getting pushed further and further back.

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

There’s a few objects on this shelf that I’ve removed so you can see the books a bit better but the item I’ll talk to you about is this little creature here:

Mr B and I picked up this strange, grinning skull as a souvenir from a well needed holiday to Mexico in April. We don’t normally buy souvenirs on holiday but there was something about this skull that we both loved and we were both determined to have it!

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

I know you’re probably a bit worried now you’ve seen the skull and the cartoon book…… BUT hopefully it says that I’m a reader of many tastes, even if they venture to the odd and quirky.

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

For other Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere, please see:

Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads FAVOURITES shelfie HERE and her Shelfie by Shelfie 2 HERE.

Sarah @ The Aroma Of Books Shelfie 1A, 1B, 1C 1D and 1E

Dee @ Dees Rad Reads And Reviews Shelfie HERE

Jacquie @ Rattle The Stars Shelfie HERE

Stuart @ Always Trust In Books Shelfie #1 HERE and #2 HERE.

Jennifer @ Tar Heel Reader Shelfie #1, 2, 3, 4  5, 6, and 7

Paula @ Book Jotter Shelfie #1 HERE.

Gretchen @ Thoughts Become Words Shelfie HERE.

Kathy @ Pages Below The Vaulted Sky Shelfie by Shelfie #1 HERE.

Jenn, Eden and Caitlynn @ Thrice Read Share A Shelfie HERE.

Nicki @ Secret Library Book Blog Shelfie by Shelfie HERE.

CJ @ Random Melon Reads Shelfie by Shelfie HERE.

Thank you so much to Chrissi, Sarah, Dee, Jacquie, Stuart, Jennifer, Paula, Gretchen, Kathy, Jenn, Eden, Caitlynn, Nicki and CJ for participating in Shelfie by Shelfie, it really means the world to me. Hugs!

If you’ve done this tag or you’re one of the people above and I’ve missed out one of your shelfies please let me know and I’d be happy to add you to Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere!

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #13

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