Review of Annexed by Sharon Dogar

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of Annexed by Sharon DogarAnnexed by Sharon Dogar
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2010-10-04
Genres: Europe, Historical, Holocaust, Jewish, People & Places, Religious, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

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.As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them?Anne’s diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter’s story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz – and ultimately the horrific fates of the Annex’s occupants.

Were you assigned Diary of A Young Girl in school? If not, I am willing to bet you know who Anne Frank was and all about the annex. We all know Anne’s ultimate fate,but it doesn’t make her diary any less touching. Knowing the ending doesn’t detract from the emotional impact.

Annexed by Sharon Dogar tells the story of Peter van Pels, the boy who ultimately grew to love Anne while hiding in the attic. Obviously, we know Anne’s story, but what of the other people who were with her? Aside from the recollections of Otto Frank, and Anne’s diary, we don’t really have any first hand accounts of those in the annex. It certainly leaves room for imagination. Let me say, Annexed by Sharon Dogar is a strong piece of historical fiction. It is clearly meticulously researched, yet not couched in academia. I thought it was so interesting to get inside Peter’s head. We see him go from being rather annoyed with Anne to seeing her in a different light.

It’s an emotionally moving journey. Interwoven are threads of humanity we all can relate to among the horrors. For example.

‘”There’s nothing like a good story!” I’m in the attic. The sun shines and I sit in it and read. The book makes time change. Stops it hanging. Somewhere I can hear the breeze in the tree behind me. I can feel the sun on my back and the pages turn and I forget. There are only the people on the page and what will happen next.’ – pg. 59

I think these moments, where Peter would describe something I have absolutely felt, broke me into a thousand little pieces, because I knew what would happen to Peter. You get to thinking about how he lost so much, how it’s likely you will never endure what he endures. I’m one of those people who has to shut off the Sarah McLaughlin Humane Society commercials. I can’t take it. I have a lot of empathy inside me, and it hurts to read about real people and not-so-real people sometimes who live a life radically different from me. But maybe that’s a wonderful thing about being a reader, the consideration of others. I know I have definitely said that before, but every time I read a serious book, I can’t help but think this.

I thought Annexed by Sharon Dogar to be an absolutely necessary read. I mean, I think that it is necessary stories like these be written so we don’t forget. World War II survivors and Holocaust survivors are getting older and dying out, so it’s essential that we do keep talking about it and remembering, so it does not happen again. I should confess, I read a lot of articles on CNN.com and the other day there was an article on it about a former Nazi being deported from the United States. I scrolled to the comments, of course, and was appalled. Some stated we should just forgive and forget, just pardon the poor old man. Guys, he was a concentration camp guard, you have to be a member of the Nazi party to be one of those guards. Normal civilians don’t get those jobs. Anyways, off the soap box for that article.

Well, I personally believe if we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it. Ultimately Annexed by Sharon Dogar belongs in the classrooms of history and English teachers. It’s fascinating, a quick read, and utterly compelling. I can see students enjoying this book.

“And we’re only people–that’s what I keep thinking. We’re only people just like all the people who walk past the attic, never looking up, never knowing we’re up here waiting for our world to begin again.” – pg. 133

Other Reviews of Annexed by Sharon Dogar:

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four-stars
About April (Books&Wine)

April is 30 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and baby, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. Allison says:

    Great review! Thanks for linking me 🙂

    I love what you said about being a reader and empathizing with characters so much. I think any book you can feel so much while reading is so wonderful/terrible at the same time, especially books like this.

  2. April (BooksandWine) says:

    Allison – I love spreading link love! It can be challenging at times to empathize so much, because the emotion can be painful, unfortunately.

  3. geekyreads says:

    This book sounds really good, but also pretty sad.

    When I was in Europe last time I want to Mauthausen, the concentration camp where Peter died. I felt like I knew Peter from Anne Frank's Diary, so the impact of being there was so much bigger than if I hadn't read it.

  4. JessiKay89 says:

    Great review, April! 🙂 I've been waiting to hear what you had to say about this one, and now after having read your review, I am itching to go and get my hands on a copy!

    P.S. LOVE the new layout!! 🙂

  5. As someone who must have read Anne Frank's Diary 15 times between the ages of 9 and 14, I need to read this book!

    Also, have you read The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank? It's another story told from Peter's perspective, only years after the war. And it asks some interesting questions about the way Anne's image came to be used.

  6. Ooh, this sounds great! I will look into it for sure.

    As to the deported Nazi guard… I think people are willing to give Nazis a lot more leeway for "being forced to" do things during WWII because it salves their own conscience about the way their countries/people acted in WWII. People don't give that sort of leeway to other people, races or ethnicities. I bet if it was Osama bin Laden found in the US and deported, people wouldn't think we should "forgive and forget."

  7. Vampires and Tofu says:

    Wonderful review!

    I can't watch those commercials either, they break my heart. I agree with what you said about reading and empathy, I think those of us who read a lot are more capable of feeling someone else's pain because stories immerse us in a viewpoint other than our own. We learn to see and feel from someone else's perspective. Imagine how different the world might be if more people read…

  8. rhapsodyinbooks says:

    I had no idea there was a book giving Peter's point of view. I'm really interested in this. Thanks for the review!

Trackbacks

  1. […] – Total Tragedy of a Girl Named HamletDivakaruni, Chitra Banerjee – One Amazing ThingDogar, Sharon – AnnexedDonnelly, Jennifer – A Northern LightDoyle, Marissa – Bewitching SeasonDraper, Sharon […]

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