Book Review: ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank

March 8, 2011 in Book Reviews, Reviews by pacejmiller

I had been eager to read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank ever since I visited 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, the site of the ‘Secret Annex’ where the Franks and their Jewish friends hid from Nazis for two years (between 1942 and 1944).

While I was there, I got to see samples of some of Anne Frank’s original writings (with translations), and was astounded by amazing writing ability of this 13-15 year old girl.  It was so raw, but at the same time managed to capture her deepest thoughts and emotions so eloquently.

I was in awe and proceeded to purchase the ‘Definitive Edition’ of her diary, which contains materials previously unpublished (because of the discussions of sexuality and Anne’s criticisms of her mother) and materials later found.

Anyway, I finally got around to reading it and finished the book last week.  All I can say is that I am not surprised that even after 60 years, Anne’s writings have remained in people’s hearts.  While it is a diary, and as such, features the occasional mundane passage, the writing is exquisite and insightful (especially when it came to relationships and the negative side of human nature), and often touching and heartbreaking.  There were plenty of passages, and especially the last few, that gave me goosebumps as I read them.

Before I read it in full, I wondered what could be so good about a young girl’s diary, even if the circumstances under which it was written were very unusual.  To Anne’s credit, she actually managed to keep it interesting for the most part because she poured her heart into it and didn’t just write for the sake of writing — she knew at some stage that the diary might one day be published, and made sure that each of her entries told the reader something different.

It was also fascinating to watch her grow up on the page, hitting puberty, becoming more mature, falling in and out of love.  To have all the angst, needs and desires of an ordinary teenager — longing for love and freedom (not just physically but also separation from her parents), dreaming of her future and who and what she wanted to become.  And as you read it, you knew in the back of your mind that she’ll never get to realise those dreams.

Actually, having said all that, Anne did realise one of her dreams.  As she wrote on Wednesday, the 5th of April, 1944:

Unless you write yourself, you can’t know how wonderful it is; I always used to bemoan the fact that I couldn’t draw, but now I am overjoyed that at least I can write.  And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself.  But I want to achieve more than that…I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people.  I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met.  I want to go on living even after my death!

5 out of 5

PS: Definitely check out the Anne Frank website.  It’s awesome.