The Diary of a Young Girl is a book I have wanted to read for a long time. I found it on the kobo app earlier this year for pretty cheap (less then $5 if memory serves me correctly) and added it to the list of books I needed to read. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I read the book. Most people know what happened to Anne. Her family was Jewish and they went into hiding in Amsterdam when the Jews were being persecuted, imprisoned and killed by the Germans. They were hiding for over a year (I think 2 really because she began the diary in 1942 and it ended in 1944) and just weeks (months?) before the end of the war, they were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Of the 8 people who were in hiding with Anne Frank, her father, Otte, was the only survivor. Anne, her sister, Margot, and her mother all died.
I was preparing for a horribly tragic book. In many ways it is tragic, but not in the way I expected. Anne writes to her diary and tells the diary about her struggles with her family, she talks about sex, and her feelings, she talks about how she wants to grow up and become a writer. She talks about what it’s like for her to be in hiding and not being able to go outside, and knowing if they’re caught that the non-Jewish people helping them out will face the same fate that she and her family will. It’s an amazing revolution of a young girl who grows up so quickly in the pages that she wrote on. She wanted to grow up and be a writer.
The great tragedy is knowing that she’ll die before anything else in her life happens. It’s an amazing and tragic picture of what it must have been like to be a Jewish person during World War II. It’s a life and a fate that very few of us will ever be able to personally relate to (not that anyone would ever want to live through such an experience), but it’s a story we can all empathize with. It always breaks my heart a bit when I read these true accounts of people who have had to live through such experiences and it reminds me of my own privilege in life to know that the likelihood of my ever having such an experience simply doesn’t exist, for which I am forever thankful for. I wish everyone would read The Tale of a Young Girl, it’s truly a must read.
As a final note, I thought about The Fault In Our Stars as I approached the end of A Tale of a Young Girl. In The Fault In Our Stars, Hazel’s favourite book is An Imperial Affliction, in this book (within a book) the main character dies suddenly in the middle of a sentence. This drives Hazel mad because she wants to know that the mother of the character is ok, she wants to know what happened to the hamster and so on because things continued even after the end of An Imperial Affliction, even though the main character died. She ends up meeting the author, who had moved to Amsterdam. It’s worth noting that Hazel is dying of lung cancer. Her story, too, will end unexpectedly. In Amsterdam, she visits the Anne a Frank Haus. I never made the connection until I was approaching the end of The Tale of a Young Girl. Much like the character in the Imperial Affliction, who got to sick to keep writing (thus no one wrote about how she died), Anne Frank was arrested and sent to a concentration camp and the end of her story was never written either, it simply ended and she died in a concentration camp, which was a comment by the people who published her diary. One of the messages for The Fault In Our Stars was for Hazel to learn that her parents, especially her mom, would be ok after she died. And here was a true living example of that – Anne Frank died, but her memory is in the pages of this book. It’s really hard to explain more then that. It’s just a must read, like I said, and I think everyone ought to read A Tale of a Young Girl.