I have thought over and over again, on how exactly do I review a book which is one of the toughest that I’ve found to read. I’ve debated with myself if what I write, what I want to write would be a review, and even wondered if such a book can be “reviewed”. To review a fiction is something that is somewhat easy when compared to reviewing a non-fiction. Through an autobiographical non-fiction book, one goes to the story of the author, their experience as they felt it, saw it, tasted it, heard it, smelled it… experienced it. When the book in question is a diary, a personal effect that holds the most dearest of thoughts, sometimes even those that cannot be shared with even the dearest of people, then my thoughts on those thoughts cannot really be a review.
If I think back to when I first heard the name of this young girl, I realize I’ve known a bit of her story since when I was her age, maybe even before. The profound difference that makes her life more interesting than mine is that I was reading a book on a winter night, warm and cozy under my blanket, under the roof of my house and well… comfortable and pampered, maybe even with chocolate biscuits at my side. She, at the same age, was hiding in a “secret annexe” and living in fear of capture, and the consequences of that capture that were sure to follow. So were her family.
A story does not become uninteresting because we know the ending even before we start. How Anne’s story ended is common knowledge. She is one of the, if not the most, talked about victims of the Holocaust. Anne Frank was a girl who had just stepped into her teenage years, who got a diary on her thirteenth birthday and who wrote her thoughts that weren’t valued or heard by others to this diary, a friend who heard her no matter what she had to say, and who she named Kitty. Even to the extent that she felt that “paper has more patience than people”. How wonderful and true a thought that a girl of thirteen years has. She had a loving family, her moods changed often, she had dreams that she believed in and led a life that was normal, like any other but for the fact that she was hiding from the world to survive, because of the cruel dictatorship that was threatening her and her family. People often encourage me to think out of the box, because thoughts that are boxed in will not necessarily grow. Imagine three years of life in a box, hidden away from the world. If we don’t find it interesting to read of such a life, I can only imagine the pain and difficulty those people had to have gone through such a life. Their losses seem mundane to us, because we can’t step into their shoes as readily. The loss of a pen with which we have written a lot may not mean as much to us because we would just go out and buy another. It meant a lot to Anne, and she mourned for its death like the friend it was to her. Even as she mourns, she thinks of how she’d die and how she’d like to be cremated. We, we are mostly afraid of dying and don’t think so far.
Anne Frank’s diary is not only sadness. It’s has mystery, if you look at it deep enough to find it. It shows there are people who are willing to help others when they need it the most. It shows the simplest and purest of feelings like love can be found even in hiding, and even friendships can be forged there. Anne’s thoughts are mature, way beyond her years and I sometimes wonder how could she have had such thoughts at her age… thoughts on the simple things around her, and of things that we discuss only on occasion even now.
To finish this book is difficult because the events that build up to that ending that the world knows is just as tough to swallow as the ending itself. Anne Frank’s life was no walk in the park. Anyone who’s expecting a fast paced, high-English filled book with twists and turns and eloquent imagery can just stay away from reading it, let alone think of expressing their thoughts that the book was a turn-off because it was straightforward and uninteresting. It wasn’t a lovable book, because it’s not a book. It was her diary.
Could something have made the diary even better? Anne surviving the events.
But that’s life. Not every story has a happy ending.
Title: The Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Anne Frank
Genre: Diary / Memoirs
Publishers: Wilco Publishing
Price: INR 199
(5th March, 2014)