Book Review: A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This book has been on my TBR longer than I even kept a list of my TBR. Since grade school I have been meaning to read this book, and yet for some unexplainable reason (a mixture of procrastination and pure laziness) I never got around to until now. Not only is this book featured on pretty much every list of books to read before you die, but it’s also one of the best-selling books of all time.

For those who have never heard of this book (first, I’ll question if you’ve been living under a rock), I’ll give a basic synopsis. This is the autobiographical diary kept by Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl living in Amsterdam with her parents and sister during WWII, around the time they were forced to go into hiding in a hidden upstairs apartment for about two years. She begins her diary on June 12, 1942 and the final entry was on August 1, 1944. Three days after her final entry, her family and the others hidden in the apartment were ratted out and taken to Auschwitz. Out of the eight members—including Anne—only Anne’s father Otto survived. It was he who published her journal after the war.

Growing up, I was always interested in this particular book because the author shared my same name—Anne with an e—and she dreamed of being a writer as I did. However, I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked up this book.

Although I’m pretty sure I already spoiled the ending and most people probably already know the basic story, I’m putting in a Spoiler Alert to be safe.

My first impressions of the book were surprisingly negative. The diary starts months before they go into hiding, and Anne is still attending school. Anne is selfish, vane, and envious. She talks badly of many of the girls her age and cannot believe how any of the boys should not have a crush on her. In a sense, she is the average thirteen year old girl. She is immature and full of herself. But in that sense, this makes the later story all the more real. After all, she’s just a completely ordinary girl who was thrown into a tragic fate she didn’t deserve to be doomed to.

Most of the diary follows the everyday lives of the eight people hiding in the apartment. Some of the reading is monotonous. For example, Anne spends two pages just documenting the supplies they got one day from the store. If this was a fiction book, I would probably suggest cutting some of the details. But because it is real, it feels more like a product of its time, similar to how Laura Ingalls Wilder documented exactly how they made maple syrup in the late 1800s.

What I’m trying to say is that this book is filled with historical details that, as a reader looking for amusement, I didn’t like. But as a history lover who is reading a brilliant descriptor of real-life people’s lives, I was impressed.

As I said early on, I wasn’t a huge fan of Anne. However, as she grows up (she is fifteen by the end), she develops an almost hypersensitive understanding of her own mind. In a sense, I think everyone in that house went through mental traumas due to their situation. Always having to be quiet. They could only go to the bathroom between certain hours. Every time there was a knock on the door of the warehouse above which they hid, they were certain they would die.

Anne becomes paranoid, wondering often if they will survive this. She clashes with her mother, her sister, and others. She is happy one day and sad the next. Each diary entry is filled with different emotions, making this diary as much of an emotional rollercoaster for the reader as it was for Anne.

One line really stood out to me that Anne wrote not six months before she and her family were discovered. She says, “I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway.”

It seems ironic that she makes this statement, considering how many lives she has touched in the many decades since her young death. Could she have known that her book would touch the lives of so many, and often be considered the autobiography that defined an age of terror in Europe.

While I will say this book was an interesting read, it was also difficult to get through. It’s slow-moving and repetitive. It is an examination of human nature as well as a product of its time. If you are looking for amusement or something fast-paced, this diary is not for you. However, if you are looking to study a world and people entirely different than our modern one, I would highly recommend it.

It’s the type of book that I would argue that everyone should read sometime in their life. But for me, I don’t plan to read it again any time soon, but I’m glad I read it once.

Have you guys read it? I know it’s a common book to be assigned in school, but I never read it then. Let me know your thoughts about this classic, follow my blog for more madness, and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

10 thoughts on “Book Review: A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

  1. Terrific commentary on Anne Frank’s diary. Knowing what happens to her in the end made reading it heavy going. What kind of evil would betray this angel? And there’s Otto Frank – having to spend the rest of his life feeling like the ancient mariner, cursed to go on living.

    By the way, you look so fetching, gazing with clear dark eyes over that book. Were you smiling or sticking out your tongue in cheeky naughtiness? What book was that? “The clue…..” A Nancy Drew whodunit?

    Like

    1. Yes, I cannot imagine what Otto Frank had to go through living while everyone else died. And I wonder what would happen if the world found out who betrayed them? It’s an interesting thought.

      As for my picture, it’s The Clue in the Diary (a first edition of a Nancy Drew book). And no, I wasn’t smiling; I was completely serious (maybe).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Assuming the betrayer was at least 15 when he gave them up, he must be close to 100 by now. Another one who got away. So, my Nancy Drew guess was correct. I haven’t read any Nancy Drew, just noticed they all began with “The clue..” Have a thoroughly wonderful Sunday!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This was the book that turned me into a serious reader. I pulled a copy off my mother’s bookshelf (a tatty old thing, published in the early 1950s) when I was nine years-old. It opened my eyes to so many things. I’ve never read it since but I still have the original paperback. I think I may read it again some day.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for this review. You capture a great deal about Anne. I always think of what Anne might have done with this diary had she lived; it may be naive or petty in places but presumably these were the emotions she felt and she did not know that it would be published. A writer named Ellen Feldman wrote a book The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank in which she imagines that Peter survived the war. You might want to take a look at it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great review as always. I enjoy reading them.

    I’ve always wanted to read this book, but I never got around to even buying it. I don’t think I’m in the mood to read it anymore so I won’t be picking it up anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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