April 4, 2012

Geeking out re: Anne Frank

If you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook (hello, friends!), you might have seen that earlier this week Charles surprised me with a gift: a 1952 copy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. It may or may not be a second printing of the first edition; we're having a hard time confirming that. But it is for sure from the first American run of the diary, and it is for sure a thing of beauty.

Mmm...it smells like an old book should.

It's beautiful, really, and Anne's words shine against the simple typeset with the introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt.

It's sitting in a place of honor on our downstairs bookshelf.

This book had a major impact this book had on my young life. It's pretty easy to understand. I first read it when I was about eleven years old. The fact that it was written by a girl not much older than me was never lost on me. I admired her talent, her honesty, and I felt connected to her. She was emotional, like me. She had fights with her mother, like me. Her sister drove her nuts, like my brother(s) drove me nuts. 

Honestly, in my first couple reads of the diary, it was lost on me that the book had such a historical significance. I knew we were both Jewish, and that she was killed because of it during the Holocaust, but I didn't know much more.

I bought a diary soon after my first read.  I wrote in it, trying like hell to copy her voice and her style, not yet having found my own. I failed miserably, though, and every time I read back something which I'd written, I cringed in embarrassment. 

I was a terrible writer!

As time passed, I learned so much more about the Holocaust and Anne's life. I have dozens of books about each topic. The day I read about the vast amount of editing Anne put into her diary in the later years of hiding, I wanted to go back in time to tell 11-year-old me that it was ok to write crap at first, so long as you figure out how to edit it to make it good. I wish I'd known that then.

But I know it now.

Anyway, I've always wanted a copy from that first American run. I've looked at book fairs and library sales. I dragged my brother Daniel around used bookstores in London because, clearly, I was destined to find it in London. I wasn't. (I did find a UK edition, though, so our time wasn't wasted.)

And now, thanks to a lucky find on E-bay by my husband, I am the proud owner of this amazing book.

I can't wait to read it! As soon as I finish this *other* book about Anne Frank that I'm reading right now.


Amanda McCusker said...

I remember that was a really wonderful book. I read it when i was about 11 or 12 as well and didn't fully appreciate the historical significance. However, I've learned a lot about the holocaust and tribulation of the time including visiting the holocaust museum in D.C. and Terezin (a concentration camp) in the Czech Republic. I think I would appreciate the story and the courage a lot more now than I ever did then.

Leah said...

You're the second person in the past month who's mentioned going to Terezin! Strange.

I plan to one day do a tour of WWII-related sites - including some of the camps. It'll be scary, I'm sure, but I feel like I need to do it.

You should read the diary again - you need a copy in the house anyway for when Zoey is big enough. ;o)

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