One part of the book brought up in conversation prior to my read was the idea that perhaps a book like this was taking advantage of the infamous story of hardship and horror so many are familiar with thanks to the words recorded in one young girls diary. My first thought....how so? Perhaps taking liberties with the story line, changing personalities of those in the Annex, or simply riding on the coat tails of the unintentionally but undeniable fame of the original recounting. The author, in my opinion, puts this idea to rest in the preface right from the start. It is here she explains that as much as the events are known historically, she aimed to be true...however in areas related to personal encounters, liberties weren't taken exactly, merely imagination used as any author need do in their work; envisioning herself as a third party within the tiny living space.
The big events are there, but the story on a personal level is viewed through another's eyes and since there is no journal authored by this particular person...imagination is all that is left. So what am I saying here after my lengthy ramble? I'm merely suggesting that you allow yourself the opportunity to step inside Anne's world once again and embrace the chance to wonder and suppose what that hidden world was like from another players perspective...that of Peter van Pels.
As could be expected given Peter's age and the circumstances, many of his thoughts stray to love or rather a girl and whether or not his chance to be with one has passed once and for all, yet as these instances are many...his story holds much more. Life and death are faced on a daily basis for although they are in hiding, each and every one of them knows how precarious their situation is. If one person makes the wrong move, too loud of a noise, or goodness forbid someone imparts the information from their inner circle, all would be lost. Does it happen? Yes...and that's not spoiling the story for anyone if you have a notion of what happened historically. Despite their being found, the many years they spent in the Annex were not all for naught. They had their own version of growing up take place both outwardly and inwardly, all the time not truly having a moment to themselves to process it all. (Can you imagine?)
Peter and Anne's blossoming romance is sweet and somewhat unexpected (despite the tight quarters) due to their personalities, and the way they simply enjoy each other's company, a connection with another living breathing soul is touching as is the way the moments are described. In the end, Anne's strong will and passion writing out shine any desires she may hold for a future for young Peter, a sad choice but one necessary for them both to be truly happy. The way Peter questions things that are going on in the Annex and the world around him bothers Anne's sensibilities, and although they are somewhat controversial...how many teens (heck, adults even) haven't wondered similar things? Why DOES one need to label others as a Jew or a Christian...why can't they JUST BE? It's not that the person is not proud of who they are, but it is not all they are...is it? Something to think about....
The story of these years gone by speak to us from the pages of history as a reminder of the cruelty of man but also of the power of hope and the human spirit; for though their enemies were many, there were those that came to their aid and eventually managed to crush the power that was holding them captive. Unfortunately, it was not in time to save all of these poor souls, but as Anne wished her words do remain; a champion win on her part even with her not being present to witness it...and so their lives and stories live on.
In summary, a book steeped in our own history told from the last whispers of a fictional vantage point that tries to answer the question of what that world was like for the others hidden away within the Annex walls; a terrible trying time indeed but one that must be heard lest we repeat the failures of our past. One final note...there is an epilogue containing what actually happened to each person during their final days as well as a listing of books for further reading on this subject should you desire to read more about these times on a fictional or non-fiction level.