In today’s book review post, I am featuring my review for the first non-fiction book I read this year – A Diary of a Young Girl. I have been making more of an effort to read non-fiction of late, and so I felt it fitting that I also feature this on my blog. It reflects my current reading, and this book naturally led to some very strong emotions.
A Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
Publisher: Fingerprint Classics
Publication Date: 1947
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.
Having read so much historical fiction, particularly around World War II as I’m interested in the subject, I’m surprised I hadn’t read this book before now. Most of the narratives are about the overarching movements on the war, but it’s personal stories that really make it hit home. But this isn’t fiction. Anne Frank was a real young lady, who went into hiding because a regime did not like her faith. All the devastation that took place is disgusting.
Up until the family go into hiding, Anne lives a reasonably normal life. She has a school and classmates… A family who love her. All the things a child should have. Fear and doubt are not things that a child her age should know, but they come soon enough. There is a stark difference between the schoolgirl gifted a diary for her birthday, and the young woman confined into the Annex.
Throughout her diary we watch Anne struggle to come to terms with her new life, her relationships and living in a small space with very few provisions. Through the various chapters, we experience Anne’s day-to-day struggles, angst and moods, as well as her extended periods of melancholy. Anne becomes a teenager in The Annex; she has to battle with herself to come into her own, deal with her hormones and the like with no help or privacy.
The knowledge that this is a real girl’s diary makes the content all the more stark. That I concluded this read on the day Russia invaded Ukraine brought this to the forefront of my mind once again.
It is an educational read that helps those of us who have never known such hardship to really understand the atrocities experienced by the Franks, amongst others, had to live through. But, it also has a glimmer of hope – as it highlights those who risked themselves to hide and protect Jews. It is a pity it was in vain for too many people.
I don’t know what I expected, but the abrupt ending of the diary left me at a loss. Naturally, Anne had no inkling of their discovery and so there was no lead-up to that in her narrative. To mentally conclude the book, I researched what happened to the family after the events in her diary, and I was saddened by the reality. It is sad that anyone should go through this, but the truth is, so many lives ended in similar, or worse ways.
The Diary of a Young Girl wasn’t light reading by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it is important. It gives insight into the horrors that oppressed Jews had to live in, and only through wearing their shoes can we understand how they lived, suffered and fought for their lives.
Have you read The Diary of a Young Girl? What are your thoughts on this book? As always, let me know in the comments or on social media.