Sunday, October 3, 2010

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

Release Date: Oct. 4/10
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
eARC provided by: Publisher and Netgalley
Summary: Netgalley

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.

I'm going to make an assumption here - that most of you will be aware of and have read 'The Diary of Anne Frank' - if I'm wrong, I apologise and I entreat you to go out and beg, borrow or steal a copy, and read it immediately. Then next week when 'Annexed' comes out you'll appreciate the beauty and poignancy of it.

Peter's story is such a bittersweet tale. We know he doesn't survive - and I don't think of that as a spoiler - but in Annexed Ms Dogar brings him alive in a whole new way. He becomes a living, breathing 16 year old boy who resents the fact that he has had to give up everything that was his life. I don't think there are many teenagers today who could give up what Peter had to and do it with just a bit of bad temper and a fit of the sullens.

Ms Dogar has taken historical fact and woven a realistic, believable story for Peter, in order to fill in the background that Anne was never privy to. Anne's father, Otto Frank,who was the only member of the family to survive the camps, has said that Anne was not like the girl she portrayed in her diary - he didn't recognise her - and 'Annexed' portrays her as a typical annoying 14 year old - bored and irritating. The realisation that Peter is falling in love with Anne is heartbreaking - possibly more so because we, the reader, already know what is going to happen. (Just in case you haven't read Anne's diary I won't let the cat out of the bag.)

The last third of the book is the authors' interpretation of what may have happened when Peter arrived at Auschwitz. This part of the novel was hard to read. Jewish prisoners in the concentration camps suffered so much it is very hard to read about it - even fictionally. But I firmly believe that it is something we should all be aware of and should never be forgotten. I enjoyed Ms Dogar's interpretation of Peter's life in the Annex and encourage as many of you as possible to read this story.

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