Book Review | Annexed
by Sharon Dogar

Score: 4.5

© 2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Let me state from the beginning that I believe it took an enormous amount of courage, and an iron backbone, for Sharon Dogar to write this book. If there was ever such a thing as canonization in Judaism, I am sure Anne Frank would be in the top ten list of Jewish saints. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is more than just a Holocaust book, for many people all over the world, Jewish or not, Anne Frank’s diary is their first introduction to the personal tragedy of the Holocaust. How many books, analyses, dissertations, memoirs, explorations and the like have been written about the diary? Here comes Ms. Dogar with a novel, actually an overlay based on the diary, letting us imagine the inside of Peter van Pels’ head as he lived in the Secret Annex with Anne and her family.

The novel is excellent, the writing brilliant, crisp yet profoundly emotional. Peter is in the sick bay of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. It is hours before Liberation, and he is remembering his time in the Annex. As we accompany him in his memories, we feel his longing to be a regular teenage boy, his loneliness while surrounded by people, his wrestling with his religious faith and his desire to have some kind of intimate relationship before “the end.” The power of this story lies in our own memories of Anne’s diary, knowing the same people and what they meant to Anne, now seeing them through Peter’s eyes. Despite knowing the final outcome, I wanted so desperately for Peter to find his happy ending. Unfortunately, this is not fantasy, but historical fiction and certain realities had to stay consistent with what actually happened. Yet even there, the writing is powerful, strong, a reminder to keep our ears open to listen for the voices of those who perished. As always, we must never forget.

The back of the book contains an outstanding list of books, DVDs and websites for further information.

Grade Level: 5th- 12th

Ages: 10-18

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
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