Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

(No Series)
Autobiography / Diary

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.

It was impossible for me not to feel a heavy heart when I closed this book. I think the last quote in the afterword sums it up perhaps the best - "Her voice was preserved," Ernst Schnabel wrote, "out of the millions that were silenced, this voice no louder than a child's whisper....It has outlasted the shouts of the murderers and has soared above the voices of time."

Anne Frank was a courageous, determined, and free-spirited young woman. Her dreams of growing up and becoming a published writer, her fascination with Hollywood, her animosity and feelings of difference from her mother...all marked her as many teenaged girls are marked. Yet her strength in the simple things such as looking outside the dirty, dusty window at the tree, which she kept recording changes of in wonder, and her undying faith in God and the importance of morality and keeping hope would put some of us to shame as we tend to pity ourselves in much more trivial ordeals.

It is true that at times my mind wandered with this book -- after all, it is a diary where not much can really happen. She is stuck in a secret annexe with seven other people for a number of years, so little can occur. Even so, her ponderings on faith and justice, her outlook on life and self-improvement, and her essays on improving oneself and changing the world one person at a time is encouraging.

While some parts lapsed, the book grew more interesting toward the end. I don't think this was because it was coming to a head, but rather because as she aged and matured she began to open more of herself up and to dwell on a variety of important, difficult issues. I felt a tugging of heart at the sweet crush between her and Peter, the budding teenage romance and friendship. I liked the companionship and strength she drew from her older, quieter sister, and her father seemed like an admirable man and role model. Her mother seemed to love her children and her husband and, although told through a rebelling teenagers words, seemed also admirable.

It's bittersweet that her death was met only two months before the war ended, and they had made it in hiding so very long, but I like to think her courage still held up through everything. While she never grew up to become the published novelist and visit France to study art, or to be an independent woman who would be "more than just another housewife," she did pen a diary that would impact the world more than any piece of fiction ever would. A book that not only has lasted the test of time, but that shall always do so -- filled with hope, young love, promise, and a determination to remain yourself no matter the external circumstances.