Wednesday, April 7, 2004
I first read Anne Frank when I was in middle school, I think everyone did. I loved Anne, she was my friend. I've reread her diary several times in my life.
Then last semester I took a class on Holocaust literature. I didn't know that the Holocaust was going to be the subject matter, because the class was labeled only as Writing About Literature. It was a surprise.
I started out with Elie Wiesel's Night. I didn't make it through the first chapter without crying, and that set the tone for my state of mind through the entire semester.
Night was the first real glimpse I had ever seen of the concentration camp. I don't know how it affected other people reading it for the first time. All I knew was that my dear friend, Anne Frank, encountered these unspeakable horrors after she and her family were arrested from their Secret Annex. The horrors of the death camps had become personal.
Anne, of course, never got to write her testimony about the camps. I had to read someone else's for it to become real to me.
The point of this is, my 11-year old asked for some books from her school's book fair this week. I let her have two that she wanted and I added one I thought she would like, entitled Yours, Anne. It's kind of a mini-biography/synopsis of Anne's life and writings, geared toward young girls. It's a really good book to start with for background.
I was looking through the book last night, and by the time I got to the last two or three chapters, I was crying. Hard. I finished the book and went to kiss my daughter good night and she was completely alarmed by my face. I explained nothing was wrong, I was just crying from reading her new Anne Frank biography.
Hopefully I haven't scared her off from reading it now. I obviously haven't yet gotten over the five months of intensive study of the Holocaust from last semester.
I hope I never get over it.