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Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hidden Like Anne Frank Heartbreaking and Fascinating in Equal Measure

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"That war will not be over until I take my last breath" (211)

Because of Anne Frank's famous diary, we're all aware that many Jewish people went into hiding during WWII to avoid being exterminated by the Nazis.  We've read about Anne's struggles, not only with being a Jew in an increasingly hostile environment, but also with the day-to-day hardships that came with forced hiding.  The details are disturbing, yet fascinating.  Unbelievable, really.

Although Anne Frank is the most well-known hider, there were thousands of others.  Lots of their stories have been shared over time, but not all.  In Hidden Like Anne Frank, Marcel Prins (whose mother's recollections are included in the book) and Peter Henk Steenhuis have collected the tales of 14 people who, as children, spent at least part of the war in hiding.  Although some tales are more dramatic than others, all are intense, compelling and, of course, heartbreaking.  Since the reminiscences are told in the person's own words, they feel very personal, very intimate, very powerful.   

One of the most interesting aspects of this book, for me, was hearing about how these people coped not just during the war, but after it.  Many of those highlighted in Hidden Like Anne Frank talk about the difficulties they had reconnecting with their parents, both physically and emotionally, after being hidden away from them for so long.  They also discuss the lasting effects of living in prolonged, terrified confinement—nightmares, depression, grief, strained relationships, etc.  These things are stated matter-of-factly, without any sugarcoating.  I haven't read much about this aspect of the Jewish war-time experience, so I found it all very fascinating.  Tragic, but intriguing.

Many books about WWII have been written for children, but I think this one brings something new to the table.  While it's too hard-hitting for younger kids, older readers would definitely benefit from studying its powerful stories.  After reading Hidden Like Anne Frank, I recommend checking out its fantastic website, where you can see more pictures of the people in the book, hear a portion of each story told in that person's own words/voice, and read other stories that were not included in the book.  

(Readalikes:  The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank; The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy; The Hidden Girl by Lola Rein Kaufman and Lois Metzger; Rutka's Notebook by Rutka Laskier; etc.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for intense situations, violence and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Hidden Like Anne Frank from the generous folks at Scholastic.  Thank you!

1 comment:

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