Let’s Get Literal – The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

List Item: Read 100 of the greatest works of fiction
Progress: 35/100Title: The Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Anne Frank
Year: 1947
Country: The Netherlands

Right, so I am going to have to start off this write up with a sentence I thought I would never have to write: I am not a Holocaust denier. I am not entirely sure how or why Anne Frank’s diary ended up on this list of fictional books, but since I have been using this list for most of my blog I am keeping it until I finish it (heaven knows how long that will take seeing how I am unlikely to get a seat on my train into work for the next year).

One of the reasons that I chose to pick this up as my next read is because I am planning to visit the Anne Frank house when I am next in the Netherlands. After all, there are a few Dutch entries on the Lonely Planet list that I have yet to hit up. Last time we were in Amsterdam we were put off by the queues, but seeing how I have now read this and found out all about the Annex and the people that lived within it.

Reading this book was an odd experience to be honest. Every time I was parsing a sentence or a paragraph I kept having two concurrent thoughts: ‘this is someone’s life’ and ‘the more you read, the closer you get to her real life death’. I think I got to 85% when it suddenly dawned on me that within a few months this girl whose life I have been given such an insight into will be sent to death. If you think about it too long it’s horrifying.

For the diary of a young person this is remarkably coherent and she seems very aware during  the writing of it that it might be of some importance one day (little did she know, right?) What gets me, however, is a lot of the post-release reaction to it – and I am not talking about the reactions of Holocaust deniers.

The thing that keeps you reading this is the sheer honesty and humanity that you are reading. Anne is a teenage girl. This means she will talk about arguing with her mother, having her period and her feelings towards boys. She’s a teenager so this is par for the course.

So… how on earth can you think about censoring this to the point that children of Anne’s age would not be reading this? We live in the age of Snapchat and web porn. It is arguable that 14 year olds know far more about certain things that Anne would have back then. Yet we still have people getting angry about having this read in schools. Fine if they are younger than Anne (I can sympathise there).

However, if they are the same age or older? Let them read this and find something else to direct your anger at. If your 14 year old child has to learn about periods from the diary of a Jewish girl from the 1940s then there is something seriously wrong with your education system.


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