One of my favourite novels would be Anne Frank’s diary.
She is a really mature 14 year old. Perhaps it was due to the circumstances that she was put in. Anne was a girl who seemed to have a lack of love and attention from said parents. And people often read her off as loud, superficial and friendly, so she never had the chance of expressing anything deep to anyone, not even her family or friends. As such, she labelled a Diary, called Kitty, to help her voice her inner cries and all. She hoped to be a journalist, and write things for herself. Anne, like all teenagers, struggled with her parents not letting her think for herself, and she suffered from the fears of war and suffering within the confined walls of the Annex.
She, her parents, her sis Margot, Mr Dussel and the Van Daans were the main characters to the story. Her stories had changed from her early school days (the carefree times, where girlfriends and admirers mattered) to the confined life of the Annex. The whole group had hid behind a bookcase and lived in a trapped wall for many months. Along the way, she shared the many conflicts the members had over food, politics, the discussion about the War and everything. I saw a glimpse of what it was like being a Jew during that time. It was a horrible time to live in. There didn’t seem to have an end. No hope, just suffering and constant fear.
Anne would dream and have nightmares about her grandma and her friends, whom she feared have been taken away by the German soldiers and all. She also thinks of a friend whom she did not get along well with, and regretted it at the end. She related scenes of how she longed for the blue sky, to run around and be young. Their bodies became stiff with the lack of movement and exercise. They studied and read books all day to pass the time. Food was little, and vegetables sometimes rotted halfway.
I felt the frustration of this 14 year old, who was trying to be independent, and brave for being able to cope with her feelings alone. She wanted to be able to not show this weak side of hers to anyone, and she longed for a chance to share with someone her innermost thoughts. I myself, find paper more patient than people. I can never fully share these thoughts with people that much, since the talk is mostly all about things that are happening, less about feelings. Even if feelings are brought up, it is a little awkward in some way. She was also fighting for her voice to be heard, and recognised, and she felt her parents did not know her at all. I for one understand what she means by trying to find her identity, and her conflicts with people.
Imagine living in a confined space for years, with nothing but the news of war, things to study and some very annoying members of the household.
Along the way, Anne finds her solace and comfort with the quiet and awkward boy Peter, who gradually opens up to her. He is very bashful and often stayed away from her due to her noisiness, but gradually he realised she was vulnerable too, and she was less superficial than he thought. They both shared afternoons talking, or simply sitting next to each other, shoulder to shoulder at the attic. It was a comfortable friendship, which evolved into something more shortly before the Annex break in took place.
The book’s ending was abrupt. The diary entries simply stopped since they got captured. According to historical facts, Anne died in a concentration camp, so did her sister. The only surviving member of the hideaways was Otto Frank, Anne’s father.
Anne Frank’s book caught my attention again due to its mention in the Fault in Our Stars. It matched the timing perfectly, at how Hazel Grace was fighting to live a life, as did Anne during the Holocaust. Both of the stories overlapped in this moment. As Hazel climbed the stairs of the Anne Frank house, the narration of Anne was touching since it always involved surviving and hoping for something better in the end.
Though Anne died shortly before liberation, she had her wish fulfilled of begin remembered longer than her life. She did not want to be working and then have her work forgotten. She wanted to do something that people would remember her by. Her works and fancies. And I too, feel the exact same way as her.
Recently I found out my secondary school teacher published some of my essays in a Secondary School book. It is internalised within the school, but then I was really surprised that 3 of my essays were published out. I did not score particularly well for one, and my teacher regrets it, and decided to put it up for the book. The best one I ever wrote, was… Guess?
It was called ‘Flight’. Yes.. The very notion of freedom. I wrote about a bird, who was held in captivity in a zoo. Often times, I don’t know how or why I wrote that story. It was something I never reflected upon. Some of my classmates signed off on my autograph book with drawings of birds and everything, and one of them even wrote, ‘How to save a bird’. I did not understand by what my friend meant when he wrote that in my book. Who was the bird?
Thinking back, the bird was actually me.. or rather a reflection of myself. How I feel. Caged up. Tied down to the expectations of the world, what people judge and perceive me by. It was nothing but a reflection of what I felt inside. In my older self now, I understand.
It seems to tie down to the same notion of Anne being trapped in the Annex, or Hazel Grace being trapped in her cancerous body, living on oxygen tanks. All of us feel the concept of being trapped. The hope that Anne wrote about, about being free, is really encouraging. Freeing oneself of all that we feel confined too. Tied down to.
Anne was no journalist, but she was a writer. And I feel inspired and connected by her. People say books aren’t living. They are living and breathing in some ways that people may not see. It’s through them I see myself in a wider glass. Somehow I connect with book characters. That is perhaps the essence of being a person who loves to write. Living through the works that we write about.
Anne Frank also shows you a world that is not what you are in. A world full of fear, the need for courage, and the little whims and fancies a girl thinks and overthinks about. Some pages are dull, granted. But we have dull days too. It is the best diary I have ever seen thus far.