So, we've all heard and read about Anne Frank, who is arguably the most famous victim of the Nazi-perpetrated WW II holocaust. Anne Frank has been made immortal through her diary "Kitty", which is now a book "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl". We have read about what went through the early teenager's mind, body and life as she was holed up in a warehouse somewhere in Amsterdam trying to escape arrest by the Nazis; for two years. We have also all read about her crush on Peter van-Daan, the boy two years older than her, whose family was also in hiding along with the Franks in the same house.
Now, can you imagine the entire incident from Peter's point of view? Had he maintained a diary too, what might he have written in it? Would he see it differently from Anne? Anne was a proud Jew and she wanted to get back to her roots once the war was over. Peter, on the other hand, just wanted to be him – Peter van-Pels (in Anne's diary he is mentioned as van-Daan) – without any racial or religious tags. Are these two opinions really as mutually exclusive as they seem?
Sharon Dogar, in her book "Annexed" writes up an imaginary diary – one that Peter might have penned. Anne's diary abruptly stops at the date when the 2 families were finally arrested and sent out on the last train to Auschwitz camp. However, in "Annexed", Sharon goes beyond the arrest and into the concentration camps, the gas chambers, the lives which are worse than death, the death marches.
What struck me about this book is the depth of Sharon's imagination. She has gone deep into Peter's soul and understood his character in mind-boggling detail. You would be forgiven for thinking that this actually is Peter's diary!
The other aspect of "Annexed" is how it makes you feel for the residents of the hide-out, for Peter, for Anne, for the victims of the holocaust. It reminds you that the simple things in life that you take for granted – are not really so. Peter keeps talking about "outside" in his diary. Can you imagine being indoors for 2 years straight, without ever stepping out, and yearning with all your being just to be outside for a few minutes?
The closing chapters describe the conditions in the concentration camps in detail – and leave you horrified. How is it possible for one human to nurse so much hatred against other? How can Anne's father Otto Frank stay focused and advocate against "an eye for an eye" even in the face of such impending doom?
All in all, I would highly recommend "Annexed". If you have read The Diary of Anne Frank, then this book is a great read to make you appreciate the sometimes contradicting, sometimes agreeing views from Peter's point of view. Even if you haven't read Anne Frank, "Annexed" is still a recommended read (although I also suggest you read Anne Frank first!).