Sunday, February 9, 2014

Book Review: Diary of a Young Girl

Book Review: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 

Goodreads Description: 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 Annexe" 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.

My Review: There's so much I could say about this book, but I can't seem to scramble the words together. To say that this is an amazing study of the human condition would be true, but I feel like it would take away from the people who lived out the days recorded in the diary. We are all products of the human condition, we are all tested and tried, but often we don't realize the magnitude of the trials we face or the successes we've achieved. 

While I read, a strong and steady thought stayed with me: What was the point of all of it? The Frank family did what they could to survive, and yet I continued to ask myself if it was worth it. If they were to die, why waste time locking themselves away, to suffer and wait for death? Will this simply be two years of bitterness and suffering until their misery is ended? It's horribly heartless, I think, because it is a very removed question. It's akin to asking: What's the point of living? And yet I couldn't stop myself from comparing the merits, asking if this little bit of happiness makes all this worth it. 

And yet, another thing I wondered to myself. Every time Anne discussed her dreams to be a journalist, her desire to write a book and even publish a book based on her diary, I asked myself: Have you really accomplished your goal if you aren't even alive to witness it? Or is it simply another coincidence in life, something that would have happened whether or not you desired and worked for it? 

As the diary came to a head in 1944, I found some solace in the joy that she managed to find, the self-discoveries she'd made, and the endless hope and optimism that had me flabbergasted by this point. How could someone who has suffered like that, had to endure such hardship, continually hold out hope and optimism? The way she would casually talk about her future-- leaving the Annexe, going back to school, whether she wanted to be a housewife or a writer-- as if there wasn't the possibility of dying, is heart-breakingly beautiful. It made me wonder why people so readily give up when faced with simple problems, but grow firm and unshakeable when they have nothing left to lose. 

"It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on…” - Death, The Book Thief

Figured that summed it up best.

TL;DR: 5/5. A classic, of course. 

Follow my review on Goodreads here

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