You’re likely living under a rock for the past decade if you haven’t heard of this book. It’s a heartbreaking tale of a thirteen-year-old Anne, who went into hiding from the Nazis in 1942.
Anne begins writing in her diary when she turns 13 (the diary is a birthday present). She lives with her family in Frankfurt, Germany but suddenly has to go into hiding because of the Nazi Party’s treatment of Jews in the second world war.
Her family flies and hides in a place Anne calls “The Secret Annexe.” There were eight people living in close quarters, continuously terrified of being found out and sent to a concentration camp.
This is a book (more precisely, a diary) that is not to be labeled a “classic” or “reviewed” or “rated.” It is a stirring confession meant to be reread – finding insight and joy along the way.
The family faces food shortage, boredom, increased prices, and constant anxiety. The only sounds they would hear were gunshots and air attacks. They have to remain silent during times of tension and conflict.
Throughout the book, there were times I kept asking myself “How can a 13-year old think of this?” and this sentiment is popular across the readers of The Diary of a Young Girl.
Despite the atrocities that Anne faces, she faces her struggles with mind-blowing maturity that can be insurmountable in times of crisis like hers.
“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.”
Kitty (that’s what Anne names her diary) gives us an insight into the atrocities faced by a girl who was traumatized just for being a Jew. Kitty’s reading is beautiful, saddening, philosophical, even humorous in some places.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Anne goes through the same emotions as a 13-year old, but with dire circumstances. She feels her parents and her 16-year old sister do not understand her, even though she loves them dearly. She describes her psychological and physical challenges frankly and with anguish.
“Although I’m only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong. I have my opinions, my own ideas, and principles, and although it may sound pretty mad from an adolescent, I feel more of a person than a child, I feel quite independent of anyone.”
She begins to consider Kitty as her friend and enjoys writing in her when she feels the world doesn’t understand her. It is the thing that empowers her and the thing that makes her heart light.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
At 13, Anne is articulate beyond her age. There are emotional lessons and painful learnings that are timeless. Her psychological, spiritual, and emotional growth throughout is astounding and heartbreaking. She holds on to her ideals and morals despite her circumstances.
In August 1944, Anne suddenly becomes silent. Someone has betrayed them and the family was transported to different concentration camps. The only member that could survive in the Frank family was Anne’s father, who took the step of publishing her diary.
Silent grief descends on finishing The Diary of A Young Girl. How do you do this book justice? What if Anne had lived? Can you even review a 13-year old’s work that she didn’t mean to publish, an innocent child that died in the Holocaust? What would she have become? I honestly don’t know.
“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”