I am so glad that I was able to fit in my book bucket list pick for June. I have wanted to read The Diary of a Young Girl for years. I didn’t get the chance to read it in high school like so many others did. I’m not sure why we didn’t read it other than maybe because Schindler’s List had released and become a huge success. We watched that film, an excellent film by the way, instead of reading Anne Frank’s diary. I don’t think one story is better than the other. They are both true and both equally moving. I do think that The Diary of a Young Girl should continue to be taught in schools because it is told in such a pure voice and really puts the reader right in the middle of the war. We can study World War II all we want, but we’ll never hear a more authentic voice than that of a young Jewish girl in hiding. Anne’s story is something that touched my soul profoundly and something I will never forget. No review I write will ever be able to do this book justice, but I will try my best to summarize why it was such a moving read for me.
It’s very difficult to review this book because, how on earth can I review someone else’s point of view on life? How could I ever critique the musings of a young Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis and scared for her life and the lives of her family and friends? All I can do is say that this book gave a very real, very vulnerable, very human voice to a young girl who was being hunted by Nazis and was terrified of being caught and given the same inhumane treatment as millions of others.
Although she was viewed by Hitler, the Nazis, and the Nazi sympathizers as nothing more than a Jew and treated like she wasn’t even human, Anne Frank was a typical teenage girl. Anne loved writing in her diary and, like me, she loved reading. I enjoyed her interpretations of various works she read while in hiding and the stories she came up with. If she had lived, she would have been a writer. I believe I would have enjoyed her work.
Anne Frank wrote about typical teenage things: boys, crushes, sex, and parental drama. She had quite the difficult time with her mother, as so many teenage girls do, struggling to find mutual acceptance and respect. She describes in detail the Franks’ hiding place, their many close calls, daily life, and conversations, arguments, and special moments with all the other tenants in hiding as well as those who were kind enough and brave enough to hide and protect them.
I had tears in my eyes as I read Anne’s account of listening to D-Day on the radio and hoping that she could go back to school by October. I can’t imagine daring to have a spark of hope after years of living in hiding, wondering when you’ll be able to see the sky again or breathe fresh air. She held onto hope that the war would end soon and bring her freedom. But, tragically, her diary suddenly ended before the war did.
Anne Frank’s story must continue to be read and shared. We must remember that whatever labels some may put on a certain group of people – a particular race, ethnicity, or religion – we must always see people first and foremost as humans. That is the true message of Anne’s story and the story of so many other anonymous, voiceless Jews who were also forced into hiding and killed. We must never, ever allow this to happen again to anyone. Yet, I watch the news from around the world, people being targeted because of race or religion, and wonder sadly if we’ve learned nothing from Anne’s story and the suffering of millions of people.
“At such moments I don’t think about all the misery, but about the beauty that still remains. This is where Mother and I differ greatly. Her advice in the face of melancholy is: ‘Think about all the suffering in the world and be thankful you’re not part of it.’ My advice is: ‘Go outside, to the country, enjoy the sun and all nature has to offer. Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you and be happy.’
I don’t think Mother’s advice can be right, because what are you supposed to do if you become part of the suffering? You’d be completely lost. On the contrary, beauty remains, even in misfortune. If you just look for it, you discover more and more happiness and regain your balance. A person who’s happy will make others happy; a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery!”
– Anne Frank Tuesday March 7, 1944