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Customer Review

429 of 468 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Young girl, heck. Diary of a young woman is more like it., July 30, 2004
This review is from: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Mass Market Paperback)
Imagine that someday you are remembered for all eternity at a very particular time and at a very particular age. You could be remembered forever as being 25 on September the 11th or you could be remembered as being 44 when JFK was shot. It seems awfully cruel for someone to be remembered between the ages of 13 to 15. Do you remember what you were like at that age? Would you want anyone to think of you as that old for as long as your name is remembered? Such is the fate of Anne Frank. Now, I never read this book when I was young. High schools, in my experience, tend to assign the play version of this story when they want to convey Anne Frank's tale. Anne tends to be remembered as the little girl who once wrote, "I still believe that people are really good at heart" in spite of her sufferings. So I should be forgiven for expecting this book to be the dewy-eyed suppositions of a saintly little girl. Instead, I found someone with verve, complexity, and a personality that I did not always particularly like. What I discovered, was the true Anne Frank.

The diary of Anne begins when she is 13 years of age and the Jews are already wearing yellow stars in Amsterdam. Anne is your usual precocious girl, flirting with boys and being impudent when she can get away with it. When at last the time comes for the Franks to go into hiding (Margot Frank, Anne's sister, has been issued an order for her removal) they do so with another family, the Van Daans. In a small floor hidden above Otto Frank's old workplace the two families are aided by faithful friends and employees. Over the course of the diary we watch and listen through Anne's eyes as, for two years, the people in the attic are put through terrible deprivations and trials. There are good times and bad, but Anne is a singularly biased narrator and her observations must usually be taken with a grain of salt. After a while you become so comfortable with Anne's observations and voice that the final page of the narrative comes as a shock when the capture of Anne and her family is finally announced.

I recently had the mixed pleasure of finding and rereading my own diary from around the age of 14. After forcing myself to look through the occasional passage here and there I was forced to conclude that for her age, Anne is a marvelous writer. She has a sense of drama, tension, and narrative that is particularly enthralling. It's painful to think about what a great writer she could have been had she lived any longer. Honestly, the Anne I met in this book showed all the worst characteristics of her age. I found her detestation of her own mother to be particularly repugnant. Then I remembered... she's an early adolescent. Of course she hates her mother! Of course she's just simply awful a lot of the time. But you can see who she's becoming, and that's what makes the book so hard to get through. You can see her growth and her character. You know that she's learning and trying to understand what it means to be a human being during World War II. It's all the more awful that this would be the age she was preserved at.

The book is remarkable on so many levels. I think young teenage girls will understand Anne's plight intrinsically. Who couldn't? Who doesn't remember the rocky years of 13-15? The need for attention? The sobbing for no particular reason? By the end of the diary, Anne becomes far more philosophical. She no longer records the family's every move and action. Instead, she ponders questions like whether or not young people are lonelier than old people. Or what it means to be good. Though you may not like the protagonist of this book at all times, you come to understand and sympathize with her. She is a remarkable author, all the more so when you consider that this diary was written for her eyes alone at the time. If I could require kids to read something in school, I think this would top the list. It probably remains the best Holocaust children's book in existence today.
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Showing 1-10 of 30 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 28, 2007 10:29:19 AM PDT
O. Albretsen says:
I was going to write a review about this book, but honestly not much more can be said after this. This is one of the better and more useful reviews I've ever seen on this site.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2009 12:01:41 PM PST
I completely agree. I have recently read the play version of this book because I am in middle school and I loved it! I always couldn't wait until it was Language Arts time because this book is so fascinating. This review is perfect (based on what I have read so far). Very helpful.

Posted on Jan 30, 2010 9:06:33 AM PST
Keith says:
I loved your review -- you really captured what the book is about. I just thought that your interpretation of Anne was a little harsh (if not accurate, though). I can only imagine how hard it must have been for someone her age to be trapped day in and day out with her family and family friends and having almost no space to herself and living under the constant threat of being found. It can't have been easy for her mother, either, and Anne's frustration and disdain for her mother might have stemmed from weaknesses that she perceived from her own mother (which Anne herself was feeling). Sometimes I think it is hard for young people to see their parents as vulnerable and human. Great review, though. Thank you for sharing your insights!

Posted on Feb 16, 2010 4:27:09 PM PST
Kevin says:
Wonderful review. Thank you. I first read the book in Jr. High and hadn't read it again until a couple of years ago, by which time I was approaching 60, had had an adolescent daughter, and had spent 10 years teaching Sunday school to 13-year-olds. Now when I read the diary it is so much richer because I am so much more familiar with adolescent girls and some of what goes on inside them regardless of outside circumstances. My experience of those girls at once humanizes Anne for me, and also lets me see her both as a completely normal early-teen girl, and at the same time a supremely gifted observer and writer. On the other side of the coin, seeing Anne's inner self so clearly revealed in her writing instills in me a greater compassion for all of these kids I teach, and helps me to keep in proper perspective how much they clearly loathe me sometimes LOL.

Posted on Jan 10, 2011 6:29:07 PM PST
Instead of trying to sound as intelligent as the person who wrote this thorough and informative review, I've just one word to comment on it:

"Awesome".

Posted on Jan 22, 2011 12:29:59 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2011 12:31:37 AM PST
I always love reading your reviews, and this one's no exception.

I do, however, take exception with this statement:

"Then I remembered... she's an early adolescent. Of course she hates her mother!"

Wowee. I never hated my mother, and none of my teens hate me or ever hated me. All my teens and I (and good ole Dad, of course) are so close and we always have been, and they are just delightful (I already dread the coming empty nest). Teens-- male or female-- are not required to hate their mothers! Of course I never let my kids become self-indulgent, lazy spoiled brats at any age (nope, no 'terrible twos') so maybe that's the secret. (???)

We work together, play together, pray together... no arguments, no sobbing, and definitely no hate.

Off my soapbox. Still love your review despite that far-reaching statement :)

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 3:30:01 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 6, 2011 12:02:59 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 27, 2011 2:35:03 AM PDT
Interesting observations!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 27, 2011 2:48:13 AM PDT
Here is a rebuttal to your notes. This page uses many of the same phrases you did.

An FYI to anyone interested...

http://holocaust-history.org/anne-frank/

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2011 8:40:23 PM PDT
Chilly Down says:
CrazyHorseLady: I totally agree with your view on hating mothers during adolescence, in the sense that I, too, can say that I NEVER hated my mother during that age (or at any age, for that matter).

It's wonderful to hear about a happy & functional family such as your own. I can well relate.

In any case, is it so common for people to hate their mothers/fathers during their teens? Is it *truly* that rampant? I sure would hope not.
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