By September 9, 2010 1 Comments Read More →

Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Discussion

Biographies have always been popular with book groups. Examining the lives of others is a favorite pastime of reading circles as they find experiences with which to identify and re-evaluate facts, history, and beliefs about a famous life.annefrank

A biography of a book offers even more talking points. Recently one of my book groups, the Downtowners, discussed Francine Prose’s Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife and this was one of the liveliest and most insightful conversations I’ve ever attended.

The discussion opened with attendees discussing their first impressions upon reading Diary of a Young Girl when they were all young girls. Everyone remembered Anne’s diary with fondness and reverence. Yet, all said that after reading Prose’s they felt that Anne was not so naïve and could see Anne as a typical adolescent with wild mood swings and dramatic proclamations.

From there the conversation took off as readers discussed the ruthless revisions Anne poured into her diary along with her impressions of her family and emotions. An intriguing exchange involved the nature of journals and what the authors may be afraid others will see. From there came a long talk about self-censoring, editing for clarity and maturity and, possibly, posterity. Talk then turned to whether the original ‘diary’ was actually a diary or a memoir since there is evidence that Anne revised and edited her work.

The group also took the time to debate if Anne was a teenage visionary or merely experiencing typical adolescent histrionics?

The final question the group posed to one another is, ‘did we all get to know the Anne she wanted us to know?”

For further reading the group suggested The Hidden Life of Otto Frank by Carol Ann Lee, My Name is Anne, She Said, Anne Frank by Jacqueline van Maarsen, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, and Anne Frank: The Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

1 Comment on "Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Discussion"

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  1. ricklibrarian@gmail.com' Rick Roche says:

    Thanks, Kaite. I thought this was a great book that worked at many levels. No group should run short of topics to discuss with this one. I bet it is especially good with boomers who have grown up with the book and witnessed the way its reputation has changed.

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