Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Annexed: Life with Anne Frank

“How can I tell of this?” I ask her in despair.

“Put it into words,” she whispers, “and begin.”

“Are there words for this?”

“What else have we?”

And so I begin.

A thirteen year old girl and a sixteen year old boy enter a secret annexe where they will spend two years of their lives in confined isolation. They clash at first; she’s a darling and he’s a sulk but before long the pair are unexpectedly falling in love. This is the tale of Anne Frank and the boy she loved, Peter van pels (van daan in Anne’s diary). Over 31 million people have read Anne’s version of their blossoming love story, Dogar delivers a possible representation of what it was like for Peter being ‘Annexed’. How did Peter feel about being hidden, being Jew and what did he feel for Anne?
Sharon Dogar tells Peter’s story on two fronts, the first being the two years in hiding and the other Peter’s last days in the concentration camp. Both stories are intermittently entwined to emotionally impact the reader to the horrors these kids ( as well as others) incurred during the holocaust. Peter is constantly asking ‘Do you understand?’, and although only those who lived it can truly understand it, if even then, Dogar’s account is fresh look at one of the most horrific events in recent history.
Although I knew how the story ended, having read Anne’s diary and other materials, I was still gripped to the very end of this novel, because although on the face of it the novel is fiction ‘this is not a story. This is the truth. These things really happened.’ (even if maybe they didn’t happen to Peter.) Annexed is compelling, devastating and tragically honest. This is one book that cannot go unread.

Courtney :)


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