The Diary of Anne Frank was one of the earliest pieces of non-fiction that stirred me as a girl. And I know I'm not alone in this. At the time it seemed that the events of Anne's story must be ancient history. Surely no modern society in the world in which I lived could treat their neighbors this way. Then, after talking about it with my Mom, I realized the truth; that the events of the WWII holocaust took place when my mother was a young adult, she had been just a few years older than Anne Frank at the time.
I always wondered what Anne's diary looked like. Were there more pictures available of Anne? And what did the "secret annex" really look like? I think this book influenced my decision to select German when I came to choosing a language for school.
Naturally when I happened across this new book -- Anne Frank, her life in words and pictures -- in the young reader section of the library recently I was thrilled.
The book filled the holes in my adolescent curiosity, yes, but it also impressed me in unexpected ways from a memory-keeping perspective.
This volume of information on Anne's life is pulled together in a clear, well-designed, linear format, tastefully combining vintage photos with a modern use of type, accent color, and white space to deliver a reverent and timeless companion piece to the original story. And here were the photos of the actual diary so many readers longed to see.
At the time she wrote her private journal - in a format of letters to an imaginary friend she called "Kitty" -- Anne had no idea of the social relevance of her text. She never fore-casted what significance her [seemingly] "small" life story may have in the future. She just wrote. Day by day. Bit by bit, the ordinary thoughts of coming of age in some extraordinary circumstances.
In just two short years, with a pen, a diary, and a few clippings of passport photos, Anne Frank was able to document not only her personal biography and narrative of events as they happened, but a perspective on a unbelievable tragedy for which there is no logic. Even in what she understood to be crazy, troubled times, the practice of keeping a diary --in and of itself -- formed her goals, visions, and positive aspirations for her future. Of which she had many.
So once again I'm humbled by the voice of this young girl across time. I ask myself ... as a person convinced of the power of stories through words and pictures: How much can I accomplish in two years time? What parts of my personal story can be documented?
The answer is clear: whatever amount of time we take to document our story -- it IS enough.