Today marks Anne Frank’s 85th birthday. I don’t know about you, but that fact blows my mind. Anne Frank, had she survived the Holocaust, would have been a couple years older than my dad. If she’d had children, they would be my generation.
I read the book when I was in ninth grade at the recommendation of my friend Lisa, my favourite book pimp. Of course, at the tender age of 14, I didn’t have a deep understanding of what Anne’s tragically short life and indescribably horrible death meant. I remember the impact of the book more than the actual content.
Anne’s Legacy to Me
Shortly after reading Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, I became a life-long journaller, and it was a life-saving decision. Seriously–my diaries were my lifeline in those angst ridden adolescent years. I chronicled every insecurity and indiscretion, analysed every crush and heartache… I cringe to think what dreadful content I’d find…if I still had them.
Ah, yes. Hard to believe, but I let those babies slip out of my hand. One of the costs of living the ex-pat life is being out of the country when your childhood bedroom is transformed into a guest room. My library of children’s classics (including a gazillion Nancy Drews), my artwork, scrapbooks and journals all went to the town dump. Gulp! Thank goodness one volume of my diary was written mostly in Italian!
I still remember the some of the covers. The first one was a Hallmark diary with a key. The next was a gift from my Aunt Joy. It had an olive-green corduroy cover. My Aunt Mim gave me a beautiful gold one. (That’s the one I used in Italy). Nowadays I use Moleskine cahiers and I keep a digital diary (on an app called Maxjournal).
Anne’s diary had a red and white checked fabric cover with a brass lock. It was really an autograph book but she wanted it for a journal. Here’s a picture of her diary from the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam. My diaries have lots of glued in bits too!
Reading The Diary of a Young Girl also ignited a passion for Jewish literature (or books about Jewish people). Here are a few I highly recommend:
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
- People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
- Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
- The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
- Snow in August by Pete Hamill
- The Chosen by Chaim Potok
I read that Anne decided she wanted to be journalist so she could “live on.” Here are the words she entered in her diary on 5 April, 1944, just over seventy years ago:
“I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me!”