Author: Sharon Dogar
Published: January 10, 2012
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
Description from Amazon:
Everyone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex – but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?
In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter’s point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her? Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together. To know you’re being written about in Anne’s diary, day after day? What’s it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting. As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them? Anne’s diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter’s story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz – and ultimately the horrific fates of the Annex’s occupants.
I originally bought this book way back when I was teaching in Hawaii. I went to a teachers’ conference at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and they gave us a list of book recommendations for our classrooms. Annexed was one of the books and you know I never pass up a good excuse to buy a book!
Holocaust stories are always hard to read so I kept putting it off, but then I finally decided to pick it up and read it. I’m very glad I did. As I suspected, it was a tough read; there were several times that I had to stop to keep myself from breaking down in tears. I hate to admit it, but I have never actually read the Diary of Anne Frank. I’ve seen dramatic productions, but I’ve never read it. However, I do know the story and its details.
This book was a different perspective on the Frank’s story. It is told in the voice of Peter van Pels, in an honest, teenage mindset. We all take many things for granted; things like the freedom to open a window or to have a room to ourselves. Peter’s hopelessness in a situation that, in fact, offered a sliver of hope was so real and palpable. Seeing each member of the Annex as a real person with a personality that often scraped against one another, the constant lack of privacy, depending on a few on the outside to provide necessities . . . I never imagined having to live like that, having my very survival depend on it. This is another book that upper high school teachers should have on their shelves.
There are some adult themes, mainly a teenage boy being a teenage boy, that would keep me from allowing younger kids to read this. I would absolutely require my own teenagers, along with any under my educational care to read this book. I read it in a day and learned much from it. I recommend this to anyone interested in Holocaust history or wants a good emotional read.