Thursday, March 17, 2011
What was it like hiding in the Annex with Anne Frank? To be with Anne every day while she wrote so passionately in her diary? To be in a secret world within a world at war - alive on the inside, everything dying on the outside? Peter Van Pels and his family have lost their country, their home, and their freedom, and now they are fighting desperately to remain alive. Look through Peter's eyes. He has a story to tell, too. Are you listening?
Everyone has heard about Anne Frank. Well, almost everyone. I do have a friend who had no clue who she was until I told her about her (not even kidding!) but that's besides the point. The point is that even though everyone knows about Anne, not a lot of people know about Peter Van Pels or the other people that hid in the Annex. Annexed is a look into the mind of Peter. A chance to see what it might have been like for him while he was hiding. What he was feeling, and how he slowly came to love a crazy dreamer like Anne Frank.
While Annexed is a work of fiction, Sharon Dogar did try to stay as true to what we know about Peter as possible. I really loved that. Its always really hard to write about a real historical person, without making it come off as fake or unrealistic but I think that Sharon Dogar was really able to capture Peters voice with a great level of integrity. I could definitely tell she had an extreme level of respect for her source material.
It was interesting to see Anne Frank through the eyes of Peter since we only know of her from her own writings in her diary. I loved the way Anne and Peters relationship was portrayed and I really liked being able to see it evolve over time from merely friendship to something more.
The most heartbreaking part of Annexed is the last 50 or so pages because that part of the story is all about the the camps. Living in the camps, the selections, being ripped away from you're family and loved ones. Its so terrifyingly real and to think that it actually happened? Crazy. No one knows exactly what happened to Peter, or when he died but again Sharon Dogar took what we do know and fictionalized it to the best of her ability. She did an amazing job. Read the ending with a box of tissues. You'll need them.
Annexed is such a beautiful story. If you like historical fiction, or are curious to know more about the Anne Frank story you need to pick this book up. And even if you aren't interested in either of those subjects you should still give this book a read. Inside is a story that needs to be told. I give Annexed 4 out of 5 ice cream cones.
5 Words to Describe This Book
Beautifully heartbreaking, honest fictional retelling.
"I have to be me, to understand who I am. If Anne's taught me anything, it's this. It doesn't matter what we want, what matters is who we are, and we can't change that, not even if we were the last people left on the earth." ~ Peter Van Pels (Annexed pg. 256-257)