I have been delving into my reading whilst abroad, and recently finished the WWII famous Diary of a Young Girl, which chronicles the story of Anne Frank and her family as they attempt to hide themselves and other Jews from the war.
The story begins with 13 year old Anne receiving a diary for her birthday from her family, and she decides how she will be going about maintaining the diary up to date. She names her diary Kitty and writes all her entries as letters to her dear friend Kitty. The diary has two years of entries that see Anne grow from a child to a young lady, developing her writing style and going through the ups and downs of a normal teenager, paired with the added pressure of war.
Throughout we see Anne discuss issues with her family, with sharing a home with another family and detail at length the political situation that she finds herself in. We get the impression that this young girl has had to grow very fast, and this is reflected in her many musings and ponderings of her life and her beliefs. Anne is faced with having to deal with a huge hormonal development and change from a child to an adult, as well as surviving a war that has doomed her people. We see the protagonist question her beliefs and re-consider how she would like to live her life should she ever leave.
The ‘Secret Annexe’ as she calls it, is a small apartment in which she finds herself locked in and secluded from the world, alongside her family and the Van Daans. The tension between the two families fluctuates tremendously in the 2 years that they cohabitate in the small space. All with the aid of a few German friends who disagree with the conflict, the family go on, counting their lucky stars that they do not have to suffer the same fate as other Jewish people. In the midst of radio updates, a never ending wait for the war to start and endless weeks of consumin potatoes and spinach, Anne is able to find the happy and uplifting moments in her situation. We see the girl begin to develop feelings for a boy and find her first love, in spite of her denying it to the ground.
Overall, the book gives a perfect picture of the war from the perspective of a child in hiding, but also demonstrates just how mundane lives continued whilst waiting for the worst. The book was given to publishing by Pim Frank – Anne’s father – two years after he survived the war.
I loved every second of it. From being moved, to feeling as if I were actually there, there is no denying that young Anne had a gift for words and description. She was at times extremely poignant but also had such comedic relief in her writing. My only sadness is that I would urge Pim to have written a final entry or two, explaining maybe his feelings or how Anne’s hopeful life sadly ended after being taken to Auschwitz. It is truly a tragedy and her final diary entry is incredibly touching as the reader knows what happened next. Regardless, it is easy to understand why he perhaps would not feel brave enough to finish or add to her already mesmerising and relevant work.
Young Anne, so full of hope and ambition in a time where all dreams were shot dead, makes this tail of her life a must read for all. Lest we forget.