Friday, June 4, 2010

Annexed - A Review

Disclaimer: A copy of this Book was provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt with the assistance of Net
Galley. The views expressed here are honest and is not influenced by the publisher.


Everyone knows about Anne Frank, and her life hidden in the secret annexe - or do they? Peter van Pels and his family are locked away in there with the Franks, and Peter sees it all differently. He's a boy, and for a boy it's just not the same. What is it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, to hate her and then find yourself falling in love with her? To know you're being written about in her diary, day after day? What's it like to sit and wait and watch whilst others die, and you wish you were fighting? How can Anne and Peter try to make sense of one of the most devastating episodes in recent history - the holocaust? Anne's diary ends on August 4 1944, but Peter's story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion, the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz - and the terrible conclusion. It's a story rooted firmly in history and it asks a question of us all: Are we listening? 'Is anybody there?' Peter cries from the depths of his despair in the camps. Read it, and you will be.        

My Review

I delved into this book, having prior knowledge about the history behind it; the story of Anne Frank a young Jewish girl, her family and friends who took refuge in an attic during World War Two. I was also aware of their sad and tragic end. However Anne Frank’s diary serves as the only piece of evidence that gives us a glimpse of these people and what it must have been like hiding from the Nazi. Naturally, these snapshots are taken from Anne’s perspective and the reader never really gets a chance to know the others personally and to fully understand their story. In this work of fiction that is based on historical facts, Dogar attempts to shed some light on this by telling the story of Peter, Anne’s love interest and one of the persons who took refuge with her family. Ultimately, Dogar gives us an emotionally charged story that not only gives us an alternative view of life in the attic but also gives us an idea of the real Anne Frank.

The theme or rather themes of the book range from coming of age, to religion and belief to fear, hatred and finally loss. It was tough reading about the Franks and the Van Pels. I thought that the author did a great job in re-creating their emotions. It constantly ebbed and flowed throughout the story and it felt like you were one of the characters, experiencing these same emotions as well. More specifically, it takes real talent to mirror the emotions of the teenagers (Peter, Margot and Anne) as they were forced to experience some fundamental aspects of life under strained circumstances.  The author constantly reminded us that their choices and decisions not only affected them but the rest of the people in hiding. On top of this, you have the most looming emotion of all fear; fear of being caught by the Nazis, fear of being sent to a death camp and a fear of missing out on life.

Contrary to popularity, Margot was my favorite character in the book. She was a quite young woman who I felt was portrayed as Anne’s keeper and a plain, unexciting person. She was shy and said very little but yet she was extremely intelligent and thoughtful. In fact peter said it best when he described Margot as ‘always thinking’. I would have loved to see her story developed in another book and I kind of wished that she had kept a diary too. It would have  be interesting to see who Margot really was.

Though the story is focused on Peter, Anne’s Diary as well as other historical documents based on Anne’s life was used to validate key events in the book. As a result of this, I sometimes felt like Anne was telling the story instead of Peter. Also I wished that certain parts of the story was developed further for example Lisel and Peter’s relationship and life for peter in the death camps. The style in which the book was written made these parts of the story seemed almost glossed over. Moreover I did not see much of the fictional elements in the story coming through.  It’s one thing to base your work on historical facts but when you incorporate fiction, that gives you free reign to really create your story. I thought that this creative aspect of the book was missing.

All and all, it’s a good story that is worth reading.

1 comment:

Aths said...

Wow.. I am so glad to read your review. I just saw this book somewhere yesterday, and I was not sure if I will like it. Thanks for reviewing it!

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