Tuesday, October 1, 2013
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
"Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl is among the most enduring documents of the twentieth century. Since its publication in 1947, it has been read by tens of millions of people all over the world. It remains a beloved and deeply admired testament to the indestructible nature of the human spirit. Restored in this Definitive Edition are diary entries that were omitted from the original edition. These passages, which constitute 30 percent more material, reinforce the fact that Anne was first and foremost a teenage girl, not a remote and flawless symbol. She fretted about and tried to cope with her own sexuality. Like many young girls, she often found herself in disagreements with her mother. And like any teenager, she veered between the carefree nature of a child and the full-fledged sorrow of an adult. Anne emerges more human, more vulnerable and more vital than ever.
Anne Frank and her family, fleeing the horrors of Nazi occupation, hid in the back of an Amsterdam warehouse for two years. She was thirteen when she went into the Secret Annex with her family."
I'm quite sad that it took me this long to read Frank's diary. When I was around eight, I was obsessed with the epistolary format, and I think I would have really related to Frank's perspective. Now that I'm older, I don't think I love the book as much as I could have when I was younger, but I appreciate and respect her voice.
I honestly don't know what I was expecting Frank's diary to be like, but it was far more optimistic than I anticipated. Despite the horrible nature of Frank's circumstances, she doesn't tend to dwell on the negative. She frequently refers to her time hiding as an adventure, and often talks about what her life will be like once the war is over. I'm not one to idolize positivity, but it's truly amazing how Frank manages to keep sane as a teenage girl who's stuck living in a cramped space for more than two years. I don't think I could do it.
That being said, Frank is no perfect little Mary Sue. She constantly antagonizes her mother and analyzes the attic's social dynamics with an air of superiority. Her self confidence can seem unwarranted, especially when she boasts of self sufficiency at the same time that she refuses to see her parents' sacrifices. In other words, Frank is the average precocious adolescent girl. She can be infuriating, but she's never voiceless. Her personality really emphasizes the atrocities of her victimhood. It's easy to distance oneself from tragedy when you see the suffering as an amorphous blob, but it's far more difficult when the group becomes a series of individuals.
And Frank is certainly a compelling individual. I've very rarely seen such an accurate depiction of the torment and angst of adolescence. Frank's world is resigned to a small building and only a few other people, but she's still constantly soul searching. She's always trying to improve herself, and for that reason, I began to relate to and adore her. She has a strong personality, but she's also highly self aware. Even with all the turmoil of her life, she's capable and kind.
As I was reading, I find myself wondering what sort of life Frank would have had if she had been allowed to grow up. She mentions life after the war quite often, and crafts her ideal image of the future during her time writing. This was very unnerving and disheartening as a reader, and it made me wonder if readers would have cared about Frank's voice as much if she had lived. I suppose we'll never know.
At one point in the diary, Anne expresses her desire to become a writer and write something truly great. It's both eerie and comforting to me that she was already writing her legacy when she explained this hope. If nothing else, at least she was able to do that.
Overall: A must read for anyone interested in Holocaust, and for teenagers in general. Anne is worth every ounce of the attention she's received. 5 flowers.