Were you assigned Diary of A Young Girl in school? If not, I am willing to bet you know who Anne Frank was and all about the annex. We all know Anne’s ultimate fate,but it doesn’t make her diary any less touching. Knowing the ending doesn’t detract from the emotional impact.
Annexed by Sharon Dogar tells the story of Peter van Pels, the boy who ultimately grew to love Anne while hiding in the attic. Obviously, we know Anne’s story, but what of the other people who were with her? Aside from the recollections of Otto Frank, and Anne’s diary, we don’t really have any first hand accounts of those in the annex. It certainly leaves room for imagination. Let me say, Annexed by Sharon Dogar is a strong piece of historical fiction. It is clearly meticulously researched, yet not couched in academia. I thought it was so interesting to get inside Peter’s head. We see him go from being rather annoyed with Anne to seeing her in a different light.
It’s an emotionally moving journey. Interwoven are threads of humanity we all can relate to among the horrors. For example.
‘”There’s nothing like a good story!” I’m in the attic. The sun shines and I sit in it and read. The book makes time change. Stops it hanging. Somewhere I can hear the breeze in the tree behind me. I can feel the sun on my back and the pages turn and I forget. There are only the people on the page and what will happen next.’ – pg. 59
I think these moments, where Peter would describe something I have absolutely felt, broke me into a thousand little pieces, because I knew what would happen to Peter. You get to thinking about how he lost so much, how it’s likely you will never endure what he endures. I’m one of those people who has to shut off the Sarah McLaughlin Humane Society commercials. I can’t take it. I have a lot of empathy inside me, and it hurts to read about real people and not-so-real people sometimes who live a life radically different from me. But maybe that’s a wonderful thing about being a reader, the consideration of others. I know I have definitely said that before, but every time I read a serious book, I can’t help but think this.
I thought Annexed by Sharon Dogar to be an absolutely necessary read. I mean, I think that it is necessary stories like these be written so we don’t forget. World War II survivors and Holocaust survivors are getting older and dying out, so it’s essential that we do keep talking about it and remembering, so it does not happen again. I should confess, I read a lot of articles on CNN.com and the other day there was an article on it about a former Nazi being deported from the United States. I scrolled to the comments, of course, and was appalled. Some stated we should just forgive and forget, just pardon the poor old man. Guys, he was a concentration camp guard, you have to be a member of the Nazi party to be one of those guards. Normal civilians don’t get those jobs. Anyways, off the soap box for that article.
Well, I personally believe if we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it. Ultimately Annexed by Sharon Dogar belongs in the classrooms of history and English teachers. It’s fascinating, a quick read, and utterly compelling. I can see students enjoying this book.
“And we’re only people–that’s what I keep thinking. We’re only people just like all the people who walk past the attic, never looking up, never knowing we’re up here waiting for our world to begin again.” – pg. 133
Disclosure: I received this book for review via Netgalley.
Other Reviews of Annexed by Sharon Dogar:
Purchase Annexed here.