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Annexed

Reviewed by Administrator on January 05, 2011.

Peter walks slowly, savoring the sun and wind before he enters the Annex. Who knows how long the Franks and his family will stay there, Jews escaping the Nazis in Holland by going into hiding?

Yes, those Franks. This is Peter’s side of the struggle for survival chronicled in The Diary of Anne Frank, as the young man gives up his first romance, his training, his future, just trying to stay alive day by day. Oh, the story was whispered in Amsterdam that both families had fled, far from the ominous army trucks which loaded up in Jewish neighborhoods and returned to the city – empty.

Peter longs for his woodworking tools, not the books that Anne and Margot seem to live in. How appropriate that a bookcase covers the hidden door into the Annex! How difficult it must have been for others to bring food to those in the Annex when there was little to find.

As time passes, books become more appealing to Peter… as does Anne, who is no longer the child who entered the Annex. Anne – who writes to tell the truth, who writes as a testimony against the cruelty of the Nazis.

We know that this saga does not end well. Peter’s tale continues on the horrific train journey out of the city, to the brutalities of the prison camp called Auschwitz. Annexed is a powerful story for mature readers, no less real because it uses the voice of fiction.

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA

++++++

This is the story of Peter van Pels. He and his family lived in the Annex with Anne Frank and her family. The two years in hiding are told through Peter’s eyes. Nearly 16 when they enter the Annex, Peter finds Anne a bother; he dislikes the confinement of hiding. His biggest struggle is finding his own identity. This is a gripping story. The reader will want to continue chapter after chapter to discover how Peter survives, or does he? This well written historical novel is an excellent alternative to Diary of Anne Frank. 337 pages.

Recommended by: Barbara Fiehn, EdD, Library Media Education,
Western KY University

**********

Nearly everyone has heard of Anne Frank, the now-famous young diarist who documented her life in hiding from the Nazis, but what about the people who lived in the Secret Annex alongside her?

Annexed, a fictional companion to Anne’s diary, lends voice to Peter Van Pels, the boy who eventually became the object of Anne’s affections.  The Peter in this book is a deeply thoughtful and sensitive young man whose philosophical musings balance out Anne’s exuberance and whimsy.  His perspective on life in the annex, as well as the atrocities that followed before his untimely death in a concentration camp, are sobering and thought-provoking.

It is very helpful for readers to first acquaint themselves with Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl before picking up Annexed.  This is a realistic and heartbreaking companion piece that honors its source material and gives new life to the Franks and Van Pelses.  It is especially recommended for mature readers who have an interest in World War II and the Holocaust.

352 pages.  Recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian, Maryland, USA.

Editor's Note: BOMB by Steve Sheinkin is a non-fiction title that pairs well with this book...suggested by Naomi Bates.
 
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