Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

Most everybody knows about Anne Frank and her family but, mostly from Anne's point of view. Have you ever wondered what Peter van Pels point of view was? No, he did not keep a diary like Anne, so we will never know for sure however , thanks to Sharon Dogar we can imagine what he thought.

The dreadful day in 1942 when the Franks and van Pels were to meet up in the annex to hide from the Nazis, Peter van Pels decided to run away with his girlfriend, Liesl. He went to meet her but instead, to his horror he witnessed Lisel and her family being taken away from their home by the nazis. Now, with nowhere else to turn, he knew he had to go to the annex as planned.

He spends quite a bit of time there, in bed and thinking of Liesl. Pretty much everyone gets on his nerves, especially Anne with her overly cheery and talkative disposition. He thinks to himself,

"I wonder how this can be called living? How can we be in a space this small?
We’re trapped in this building like rats in a sinking ship,
waiting to be caught. The pain flashes through my head
again, lightning striking a steeple."

Finally Peter's father tells Peter that he must chip in with the work that needs to be done. His father said to him,

“Fight!” he says, and he sits back and shakes his head at
me. “You think you can fight this? Get up and make yourself
useful, that’s how we fight.”

He still dreams of Liesl and wonders if she is still alive. However, he starts to enjoy the company of Anne and her older sister, Margot. More and more the three of them spend time together making jokes and telling each other their fears.

After about a year together, Anne and Peter start to have romantic feelings for each other. The adults notice it and Otto Frank, Anne's father has a chat with Peter telling him that he thinks that Anne and Peter should just remain good friends so that Margot doesn't feel left out. However, love can't be controlled very well and Anne and Peter's relationship deepens.

Despite her strong feelings for Peter, Anne has another love, writing. She spends hours every day writing in her diary. Her father tells everyone how important it is to tell everyone they can their story when they get out. If for some reason they don't make it, Otto keeps Anne's diary for her in a hiding place so people can read it and learn about their circumstances.

Soon before the war ends the Nazis discover the annex and the people in it. They are all shipped off to death camps. The only survivor was Otto Frank. His friend and employee Miep keep Anne's diary and Otto edits it and has it published. It has been read by millions of people all over the world.

I'm ashamed to say, I have never read 'The Diary of Anne Frank.' I don't even know how that's possible, I am of Jewish heritage, why didn't my Sunday school assign it for the holocaust lessons? I don't practice Judaism but I know I must read Anne Frank's Diary. Actually, everyone should read it. IMO.

Sharon Dogar made the life in the Annex real. She gave Peter van Pels a voice, though fiction, it was a wonderful voice. I like to think that she got the essence of his voice right. Her poetic prose was strong and vibrant and never overly sentimental. She tells the fictionalized story of Peter, Anne, and the Annex in perfect pitch. This book is marketed as for young adults but I think it's an excellent book for adults as well.



  1. (You meant descent, right?) I can't reread Anne Frank.

    It's so sad.

  2. Shelly, what I actually meant was heritage. I just changes it. Thanks! It is really sad!

  3. I read the Diary of Anne Frank as a young girl, and became a little obsessed for awhile about her. I recently read Francine Prose's book about her and the diary which is fascinating reading, and I've seen almost every film adaptation that has been done. What an interesting idea for a book, to tell it from Peter's POV.

  4. I'm Jewish and I've never read Anne Frank's diary either. I' remember starting to read it in elementary school. but know I never finished. It is a little sad, especially knowing that growing up I pretty much read any and all Holocaust literature possible.

  5. Elizabeth, I think you would love this book. I would love to read your thoughts if you read it.

    Shoshanah,it's never too late to read it. I plan to. BTW, you have my Hebrew name.