I first read The Diary of A Young Girl, more commonly known as Anne Frank’s diary, when I was much the same age as the girl who penned it. And then I read it again when I became a teacher and it was an assigned text for my sixth grade class. In either scenario, what struck me the most is how universally relatable it is, and just how profound a read it is.
Anne starts writing her diary as a young girl of only eleven years of age, amicably naming it ‘Kitty’. The stark contrast between her naive but spunky ruminations towards the beginning and the context of the first-hand glimpse into the doomed reality of the Second World War really puts into perspective for the reader how day-to-day life must feel living amidst calamity—the isolation, the anxiety, the uncertainty, the insecurity regarding one’s own life, the fear of losing loved ones—all concerns that are especially relevant now as we’re living through a pandemic.
But apart from being a cautionary tale of war, hatred, and other human follies, The Diary of A Young Girl is at its heart a coming of age story. Growing up in circumstances that were just as lonely, albeit not as harsh, I felt a sense of kinship with Anne when I read this book at the age of twelve. Anne felt like a friend I could relate to in her pubescent distress as she poured it all out in her monologues to Kitty. As I saw it then, Anne’s story was the story of just another young girl who, subjected to her circumstances, had to grow up before her time. Over the two years of surviving in hiding, we get to observe this gradual maturing voice in Anne’s penned thoughts. “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart,” she writes, providing the reader with a tale of unshaken hope even in the darkest of times.
As an adult, now that I ponder upon the innermost thoughts of the young girl who wrote this book, I cannot help but wonder how I can still relate to a lot of Anne’s worries. And now more than ever, as I write this during quarantine, I can appreciate the depth in the words of the wise-beyond-her-years thirteen-year-old author of this book who has equipped me with the strongest weapon to combat such harrowing times: hope, undying hope.
Reviewer’s rating: 5/5