I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Written by Sharon Dogar
Published October, 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Provided by: Netgalley
Genres: Real Events, War
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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.
I’ve been interested in Anne Frank’s story for the longest time. I have seen the films and read the books. I had no idea this book was even coming out! So, as soon as I found out, I got my hands on it and devoured it in one day. It was amazing.
As mentioned, I’m eager to get my hands on anything that chronicles Anne Frank’s life and her experience in the annex. This re-telling is a little different, it’s told from the eyes of Peter van Pels. I’ve always liked the story behind Peter and Anne’s relationship, and I’ll be the first to defend Sharon Dogar amidst this huge storm of hate and criticism surrounding this novel.
Anne’s story is an untouchable one, I’m sure we all understand that, but I really applaud Sharon Dogar for having the guts to go there and bring Anne and Peter’s story to the world again. We all know the story of Anne Frank, but what about younger readers? I think this book gives them a chance to discover it for themselves.
It isn’t ‘sexed-up’ like this review claims. Peter’s a sixteen/seventeen year old boy! Of course he’s curious about certain things, and it plays a big part in who he is and the time he has in the annex, but it isn’t the whole story. And it certainly doesn’t turn the rest of the story into mud. If I hadn’t read this article prior to reading, I doubt I would’ve thought it was very sexual at all.
Everything based on fact was checked, double-checked, TRIPLE-CHECKED and then checked again! Of course, the facts concerning Peter’s time in the camps are hazy and not well documented, but Sharon Dogar writes and weaves the events in her story from real ones of other camp prisoners, making Peter into a sort of ‘everyman’.
Though we already know the way the story plays out, already know the history, it’s a chilling reminder. The descriptions don’t hold back, bringing graphic meaning to the settings and scenes in which the story takes place. You can smell, taste and just about scrape the grime off your own skin as you explore Peter’s surroundings. It’s horrific.
I HIGHLY praise this novel and urge you to read it, even if you don’t know much about Anne Frank and her tale. It will really open your eyes. I am so familiar with her story, but I never fail to be shocked and surprised in how many ways it really touches me. People can be so terribly cruel, loving and unfeeling. Sometimes I can scarcely believe that this is our world’s actual history.
Note: I’m particularly fond of the latest film adaptation (Anne Frank: The Whole Story, 2001) so I highly recommend it after reading this novel if you haven’t already seen it.
Recommended to: Anyone interested in the Anne Frank story (old or new to the topic)