Monday, November 25, 2013

The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank
First Published 1947
Source: this copy was purchased for my daughter

Publisher's Summary:
Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank's remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the "Secret Annex" of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

The journal of a Jewish girl in her early teens describes both the joys and torments of daily life, as well as typical adolescent thoughts, throughout two years spent in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of Holland.

My Thoughts:
I first read this book when I was about the age Anne was when she was writing it. It made a lasting impression on me then. It made an even more profound impression on my this time.

Anne Frank repeatedly wrote about there being two Annes. She was referring to the public Anne, the Anne who is ever cheerful and uncomplaining, and the private Anne, the Anne who is quiet and battles depression. But the reader sees two different Annes as well.

There are entries in  The Diary of A Young Girl that read exactly like the diary entries of any thirteen- or fourteen-year-old girl. She writes about love, boys, and crushes. She has issues with her father and can't get along with her mother at all.

Other entries left me momentarily wondering if this could actually have been written by such a young girl. Anne Frank was an extremely bright young lady and surprisingly self aware.
"As I need comforting often, I frequently feel weak, and dissatisfied with myself; my shortcomings are to great. I know this, and everyday I try to improve myself, again and again."
Adults always like to say that children want parents, not friends. Anne confirms that. Her mother admits that she looks upon Anne and her sister more as friends than daughters. But, Anne says, "a friend can't take a mother's place. I need a mother as an example I can follow, I want to be able to respect her." Like most girls her age, Anne also wants her parents to treat her like a grownup.

Most impressive were Anne's thoughts about religion, war, and corruption. She is certainly learning a lot by being in such close proximity to adults in such a trying time and by listening to nightly radio broadcasts. She is clearly, however, not parroting what she is hearing. Anne listened, processed, formed her own impressions, and tries to work out what is happening in the world around her.

"Who has inflicted this upon us? Who has made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now? It is God that has made us as we are, but it will be God, too, who will raise us up again."
Anne wanted to be a writer, to have an impact on the world. In her death, she achieved her life's dream. She asked "Who besides me will ever read these letters?" More than thirty million people have read some version of her words (there have been several editions, with differing diary entries included).

"I want to go on living even after my death. And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me." 
If you have never read this book, I highly recommend it. As a window into the world of a young girl, and of a Jew during the Nazi occupation of Holland, and as an insight into both the ordinary and extraordinary of life in hiding, it is well worth reading.


  1. Haven't read this book since my teens, so it's definitely time for a reread!

  2. I loved this book, even the graphic version of it. I guess I'm due for a reread!

  3. I feel exactly as you did. I read this first when I was younger and then a few years ago. It impacted me so much more that time around. I think this is one book everyone should make an effort to read.

  4. It's been too long since I've read this. It was beautiful and heart-breaking when I read it in high school and I know it'll be again. I need to read it again. Beautiful review, Lisa.

  5. Goodness, it's been years since I read The Diary of a Young Girl. Middle school, maybe. I should absolutely revisit it at some point. I bet my rereading experience would have a lot in common with yours. I also have the book Francine Prose wrote about Anne and her diary, which I've been meaning to read as well.

  6. I think it's time I re-read this one. I can't even remember when I read it, probably in grade school. Those quotes you included in your review really emphasize why this book has remained so important (aside from the obvious).