Monday, October 11, 2010

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

Annexed
Title:  Annexed
Author:  Sharon Dogar
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date:  October 2010
Format:  Hardcover, 352 pages
Age Group:  Young Adult

Annexed is a novel based on The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.  It tells the story of the families hiding in the annex from the perspective of Peter van Pels, the young man in hiding with Anne and Margot Frank.  His story is told in memories from the time he sees a friend taken by the Nazis, through the two years spent in hiding, and then in to the work camps that lead to his death.

I think taking the story told by Anne Frank and turning it to be told from a different member of the group would be a very daunting undertaking.  After all, Anne's diary and the recollections of her father are the only records that we have of their time spent as Jews in hiding during World War II.  Trying to understand the events from Peter's perspective must have been difficult as there are little to no records of him outside of Anne's observations.

I really liked how Dogar started at the end instead of the beginning.  As Peter lies in the sick bay wondering if he is dead or alive, the memories become real again.  These memories are how the reader is able to experience the events with Peter.  The memories allow Peter to fully examine his feelings about what was happening in the annex.  How did he truly feel about Anne?  Did he really love her or was it just that they were forced to be so close together with no room to escape?  What did Anne's writing mean for all of them?  How would he be able to tell his story?

The one thing that I really disliked when I started reading was the chapter headings.  I appreciated the dates to help with the time line of events and the locations but the little subtitles were annoyingly obvious to me.  It has been so long since I've read The Diary of a Young Girl that I cannot remember if these titles reflect in any way the way Anne Frank dated her diary entries.  After a while, I simply moved into each chapter without reading the headings.

Annexed is a heavy book and hard to read knowing the outcome for the people involved.  I think it could be a very good read along side Anne's diary and could encourage a great discussion about what life was like for those who didn't get a chance to tell their stories.  Although I am ready to move on to a much lighter book next, Annexed also makes me want to re-read The Diary of a Young Girl to hear the story from Anne once more.

I received Annexed from FSB Associates with the expectation that I would provide an honest review.

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