First Lines: I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.
For two years now, I have taught Anne’s story through the play based on her diary. It’s a fascinating play, and one that I love reading with my students every spring. And it just got to the point where I started wondering why I’d never read the source material.
Ok, does this book really need an introduction? Just in case…Anne Frank and her family, in 1942 Amsterdam, relocate from their house to a secret annex to hide from the Nazi persecution of Jews. For just over two years, the family hid with four others: another family and a single older gentleman. Throughout the entire ordeal, Anne kept a diary of life in the annex.
So. I have to say that this was enlightening. I mean, after two years of teaching the play (and reading it at least 9 times in that amount of time), I feel like I’ve gotten to really know some of the events that happened. And it was cool to read them from Anne’s perspective before they were changed for dramatic effect. Some things stayed very similar, some things were changed. I just liked seeing her describe them.
What’s…funny isn’t the right word, but it’s the closest I’ve got…is reading about what Anne thinks of herself. She’s remarkably insightful about her behavior and how it impacts others, which is awesome. It does a lot to explain what’s happening and the reactions of others in the house. She’s observant. But she also tends to be a bit egotistical as well, talking about how much boys love her and how great she is. No, let me amend that. Not egotistical, but perhaps self-confident. She never doubted herself on certain matters. It’s just fascinating.
And truly, she’s a really good writer, especially when you factor in her age and the fact that she never truly thought anyone would read her diary in its current format. I was a little disappointed when I read the foreword that it had been edited by Otto Frank so it wasn’t exactly her diary, but that also makes me want to go out and find the diary in its entirety. (Quick searches reveal that this type of book does exist, with comments on what Anne wrote in the beginning, what she edited later, and what made its way into the published version.)
It’s a story of resilience. And while it may not be my go-to Holocaust-era read, it’s definitely worth a read. Because frankly, we’ve all been where Anne was emotional: wishing her parents were better parents, wishing people noticed the “real” her, and having dreams untouched by reality and circumstance.