Tuesday, May 15, 2007

'The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition'

by Anne Frank

Translated from the Dutch by Susan Massotty
Edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler

Non-Fiction/Diary
Bantam Books, 345 p.
First published in Dutch, 1947; in English , 1952; The Definitive Edition, 1995.

(Book #17 for 2007; Book #3 for the Banned Book Challenge; Book #1 for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge)
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.
I’m not sure why I’d never read Anne’s diary before, but I’m glad I finally did, especially since we visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam a couple of years ago. It’s truly a coming-of-age story, but like the blurb says, one that takes place under extraordinary circumstances. Over the two years spent hiding in the Secret Annex, we see Anne grow up and come to mature realizations about herself and her family. It's also a fascinating, and personal insight into what life was like in hiding, from the frustrating and mundane details of daily life to the terror of being discovered. Of course knowing her fate shadows the diary with sadness that such an optimistic, clever young girl was never given a chance to realize her potential. She did however fulfill her dream of being a writer, sadly posthumously, and being remembered after her death. A very worthwhile read.
"I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!"

6 comments:

  1. It's been so long since I've read this book. I must have been around 12-13 but I know I loved it.

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  2. She certainly went on living after her death. Her book was required reading when I was in gradeschool, so I read it a very long time ago. I'm still haunted by it, mostly because of what ended up happening to her and her family. I'm very glad that her diary was found and published, so that she could live on through her words.

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  3. Didn't you find it eerie that she kept talking about how she wanted people to remember her? It was like she knew she didn't have long to live. Of course, under those circumstances death would be on her mind constantly. Good review. I just read this myself last year.

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  4. I wasn't crazy about the Diary after I read it a few years ago (after reading Night and several other Holocaust books that were very affecting). I found Anne bratty and difficult much of the time, and that affected my enjoyment. In retrospect, I like that she wasn't a saint. She was a normal girl with extraordinary talent during an impossibly difficult time and in an impossibly difficult situation. What a wonderful book and an extraordinary life. Glad ya liked it.

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  5. I haven't read The Diary of Anne Frank since high school but I remember it had much emotional impact. I see you're reading White Teeth at the moment. I really enjoyed it, although I didn't think much of Autograph Man . The plot wasn't tortuous, it was just boring. As you can tell, I love, love, love, the word of the day feature. I want one for myself!

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  6. Iliana,
    I'm not sure why I never read it as a child. Oh well, better late than never, right?

    Laura,
    I agree, I'm glad her notebooks and papers were saved and published. At least one of her dreams came true.

    Kookiejar,
    At one point her pen accidentally got put in the fire and she made some comment about it being cremated as she wanted to be some day! It must've been hard living with the constant threat of being discovered and killed.

    Andi,
    I didn't like Anne some of the time either but that just made her diaries seem all the more real and personal. Probably why she's touched so many people.

    Acquisitionist,
    I'm only a few chapters into White Teeth but it's going ok so far. It's the first book of Smith's that I'm reading but I have heard mixed reactions to Autograph Man.

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