Anne Frank – Diary of a Young Girl

5 stars5/5

At almost twice the age Anne was when she write the last lines in her famous diary, I think back and try to remember back to my own inner-monologue as a teenager.

Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl Penguin 60th Anniversary Edition

Penguin, 2007, 60th Anniversary Edition, 368 pages - personal library

On one hand I wonder at her expressive writing and then remember that I as a young person I naturally had a certain freedom of expression and might have been as bold, although not as eloquent! I believe it is Anne’s candidness, which is both innocent and knowing that has made Anne’s diary appeal to millions of readers. As a young person you instantly relate, and as a ‘grown-up’ you suddenly remember what it was like to feel all those complicated emotions. Although it cannot be denied that Anne is self aware, there is an unguarded spirit that is not usually found in adult writing. I can see why some people have refused to believe it was real, because she writes so well, but then it is my view that people often do not give young people credit for the ability to question and for their depth of thinking. Perhaps those people have truly forgotten their youthful selves and how serious and important their concerns were to them.

I picked up my copy of The Diary of a Young Girl when I visited Holland last August. In my Religious Education classes at school I learned the contextual significance of Anne’s diary but I didn’t actually read it, and I have to admit that going to visit the Anne Frank Huis wasn’t top of my list of things to do. Then a friend at work warmly recommended I add it to my itinerary on my visit to Amsterdam and I’m glad to say that it was a truly excellent because of how thoughtfully the exhibition was put together. It also made me want to finally read the diary so I picked up a copy in the shop and when Savidge Reads chose it as one of his books to read before his 30th (his recent review is here) I bumped it up my TBR.

Bookcase - Hidden Stairway - Anne Frank

Amazing - the hidden stairway behind the bookcase - and rather appropriate for a book-blog don't you think?

Well by the 5 star rating and my effusive comments you must have guessed already that I found Anne’s diary to be a fantastic read. I was completely drawn into Anne’s world, shared her moments of speculation, boredom, anger, claustrophobia and fear, sheer delight at simple treats and her emotional ups and downs with her Mother (some seriously harsh words!), her much-admired Father, Peter, and the aggravating Mr Dussel and Mrs van Dann. At times Anne is petulant, irritating. At times she is grateful. Throughout she remains honest and her words sound out her feelings as clear as a bell. Curiously, I didn’t feel overly emotional while reading it, but when I read the afterword her story really hit home. I suppose it’s because by the end of the book I felt as if I had come to know Anne, warts and all, and then to read in black and white what I already knew – that she died in a concentration camp after all that time hiding away – I just felt such sadness. What a waste of a life, and how representative of the lives wasted in that war, through hatred and ignorance. Well I’m really getting on my soapbox now, but it is a story which compels you to consider that fact and it is a heavy warning.

The funny thing is that though we know that the story ends sadly and there are  bitter moments of expression – Anne’s ‘violent outbursts on paper’, but the diary is mostly joyful and optimistic – full of beautiful words and thoughts.

“I’m young and strong and living through a big adventure; I’m right in the middle of it and can’t spend all day complaining because it’s impossible to have any fun! I’m blessed with many things: happiness, a cheerful disposition and strength. Every day I feel myself maturing, I feel liberation drawing near, I feel the beauty of nature and  the goodness of the people around me. Every day I think what a fascinating and amusing adventure this is. With all that, why should I despair?”

The Diary of a Young Girl is unmissable piece of History, and more than that it is a great piece of writing.

To sign off, a couple of photographs from my trip to the Netherlands last year which I never got around to posting at the time. [Photo credit goes to the OH as usual]. “Memories mean more to me than dresses” – Anne Frank.

Houses on the Canal, Amsterdam, Netherlands / Holland

Houses on the canal, Amsterdam.

Windmills - Kinderdijk, Netherlands.

Have you read Anne Frank’s diary or studied it at school?

Do you remember how you felt as a teenager (if you’re not any more!)?

11 responses to “Anne Frank – Diary of a Young Girl

  1. I don’t think I read this until my 30s and I loved it. Even though I knew the outcome ahead of time I still found myself so hopeful for her future as I read it.

  2. I read this at school and only remember how petulant Anne was. But then she was cooped up in that tiny, crowded space for a long time while her friends were going about their daily lives. I also visited the house on my first trip to Amsterdam when I was 14 and remember being stunned at the cramped living space and brought home to me the reality and tragedy of Anne’s story. As a teenager I too filled lots of pages with angst-ridden outpourings which I cringe when I re-read them. However, it still surprises me that I was able to write coherently and with passion. I feel I’m more jaded about things now.

  3. Just stumbling through the door as I followed the link from Simon’s blog to yours. And glad I did, too.

    I read AF in high school. It was required for my literature class. And I’d also been to Amsterdam and had seen the house. I found it moving beyond words. Wonder if it’s changed much between my trip – in the 80s! – and yours? Wish we’d had digital cameras back then Drat!

    Like you, I found her writing sometimes irritating but overall I’m so glad I read it all those years ago. Probably won’t read it again, though. The house and book will always be one of my most treasured memories.

    • Lisa, glad you found me via Simon! The house is moving isn’t it? I thought the way that they put everything together was suitably simple and that adds to the atmosphere.

  4. I read this when I was about 14, and was hooked – Anne Frank had such a talent for writing, at such a young age. I must re-read.

    Beautiful photographs at the bottom, btw!

    • Glad you like the piccies. If you do re-read I’d be interested to know how you respond similarly or differently as a mature reader as I know when I read The Bell Jar at different ages, I had varying perspectives.

  5. I’ve read this a few times in my life, initially when I was about 13, and I always think it brilliant. Like you found, the sadness never really hits until I read that afterword. I would like to buy a more recent copy because I believe while her father was alive he insisted on quite a few cuts in the stuff about her burgeoning sexuality, and in recent years they have added that back in.

  6. I’ve never read the Diary of Anne Frank. When I was about 12 I tried to but quickly gave up. Now that I’mn older and I hope more wiser, I’ll try it again.

  7. Great post Polly, I thought I had commented on this one and it appears that I haven’t! Whoops! I didn’t imagine that the house would look like it does in your picture weirdly. I thought this was quite an important book and one which more people should read if they haven’t. Did you know apparently her sister wrote a diary too? I wonder what happened to that.

  8. Barbara in southern California

    I read the Diary when I was about 14 and it affected me greatly. In fact, when I first travelled to Europe (1969!), I arrived in Amsterdam and immediately visited Anne Frank’s house. To be standing in the very rooms where she lived was an experience never to be forgotten.

  9. Wow, loving the photos!

    I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of Anne Frank’s book for quite some time now.

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