By Anne Frank
Genres – Autobiography
It’s been a while since I’ve had time to read a book and this time, I decided to try something a bit more common. A book that a lot of people had read and recommended, but one that I hadn’t quite gotten around to starting for some reason. I read The Diary of a Young Girl because I thought it would be illustrative of the historical aspects of the Second World War. Instead, it focused a lot more on the personal aspect: the feelings of ordinary people, their fears, hopes and their overall state of mind when they were forced to abandon their old lives and go into hiding. The book was enlightening, not for the reasons I had previously thought, but in many other deeper ways.
The Diary of a Young Girl is the story of Anne Frank, a teenage Jew who lived in the Netherlands during World War 2. When her country was captured by the Germans, her entire family went into hiding with another Jewish family and an elderly neighbor to avoid detection. They spent almost 2 years in hiding, aided by some heroic friends on the outside. The book is a noteworthy historical record of the War and the horrors inflicted on the Jewish people in that duration. While reading it, I could broadly divide the book into 3 major parts, each of them decided by marked changes in Anne Frank’s behavior and writing style.
Before I begin, I’d like to clarify. Anne Frank was an incredibly brave teenager whose strength of spirit and patience cannot be questioned. The review I’ve written is of the overall experience I had while reading her diary. It is in no way a judgment on the life of Anne Frank.
I’ll confess, the book was kinda dull when I was reading it. The first part of the diary is basically just a child complaining about how her old life had been snatched from her. Anne Frank seems a bit ungrateful about the fact that she’s alive while other Jews in the Netherlands are all being killed, although this can be attributed to the fact that she was holed up in an attic. Her comments about her fellow inmates are rude and funny at the same time. The most surprising was her relationship with her mother for whom she claims she has no love at all. The first part of the book is depictive of Anne’s childish nature. Her innocent and carefree childhood and the subsequent abrupt transition to the attic, where she was suddenly plunged into a world where she would have responsibilities and the slightest mistake could mean certain death for her and all her fellow inmates are portrayed here. Anne Frank reacts as any girl her age would. She shuts herself away from everyone, convinces herself that no one understands her and stays sullen.
Somewhere around the middle, Anne’s focus changes. She now concentrates on Peter; another Jew around her age who was hiding with her. This part was also a bit dull as Anne Frank’s every moment was spent thinking about Peter and she didn’t stop writing about him in her diary. In a way, it was sweet: a teenage girl in hiding, finding hope in one of her companions and getting infatuated by him. For the reader, however, it was repetitive and mind-numbing and I was waiting for the story to move forward.
The last part of the book was delightful and it made up for the first two parts. The invasion of German-occupied territories begins. Furthermore, an amazing transition takes place, and Anne suddenly seems a lot more mature and philosophical in her last few diary entries. She’s more understanding of the other people around her and this character development is truly enjoyable for the reader. It seems even more amazing when you consider the fact that this was a real person who was captured by the Nazis at a completely unpredicted time. She had no idea she was going to be captured but before she was, she underwent a transformation and turned into a character with whom the reader sympathized.
The book is narrated in the first person, and the diary entries are greatly varied. At times, they’re abrupt rantings and at times, they are filled with vivid descriptions of life at the Annexe. The style is quite authentic and readers realize that this wasn’t a book written by a professional whose job it is to write. This gives the book a somewhat personal feel; not particular spellbinding and gluing readers to the pages, but still charming in its own way.
I’d say, read this book if you want an insight into World War 2. Not just World War 2, it could be for any war in general. The plight of the prosecuted, the waiting for everything to be over, the bad food and many other aspects of war are all presented very nicely in The Diary of a Young Girl. A must-read for anyone who glorifies war.