“Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?”
For several years during WWII, the Frank family hid in a secret attic, existing on the kindness of others and an ever diminishing food source. They lived in constant fear and took extreme precautions to avoid being discovered. Anne Frank was all of 13 and a precocious child before going into hiding. Once secluded with her family, the van Daans and Mr. Dussel, she decided to document daily life within the secret annex in a diary. Her writing betrays a maturity beyond her years as she develops a meditative internal life, an inner monologue that is strong, stubborn and independent.
I found this book difficult to finish. It might sound weird but right when Anne starts to spend time with Peter I just wanted to put it down. I knew the ending before I started and in my head I wanted her to remain happy. Sounds silly right? But I’ve never been one to not finish a good book. The closer I got to the end the more nervous I became. It reminded me of something I read when I was a kid. It was called “The Monster at the End of this Book”. It was a Sesame Street book starring Grover. It broke the fourth wall because he spoke to the reader and was scared to reach the end and find the monster. He would construct all sorts of elaborate walls of brick, cement and wood to keep the reader from turning the page, all the while begging them not to finish the book.
I loved seeing Anne's opinions develop over time and how confident she became with her own voice. She can be quite cruel at times towards the other occupants of the attic, revealing an articulate mean streak that pokes at others flaws. I didn’t like to read how she tore other people down but it showed me she’s not a character, she’s a real person with real feelings.
We see her voracious appetite for books, the emergence of young love and a penchant to examine issues you wouldn’t expect to hear from teenagers, like the hatred of Jewish peoples within German occupied territory. She writes truth and never holds back, revealing a complex young woman with dreams beyond the attic. It is this honesty that makes the writing fresh and new, despite the diary being almost 70 years old.
If you want to know how a regular Jewish family lived and suffered through the war or if you want to read about life from the prospective of a strong young woman, read this book.