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Joan Abelove

Joan Abelove is the author of Go and Come Back (1998) and Saying It Out Loud (1999).

What was wrong with me? How could I not like it— it was such an important book, everyone loved it, everyone loved her. I was about her age, I was Jewish, I had loved John Hersey’s The Wall. I was ashamed of myself, and told no one.

I re-read The Diary last week and felt very differently. I kept thinking about my college professor who said, “The morning after a revolution, people still have to get up and go to work.” It was the first time I thought about history in terms of the people who lived through it. That is a very important part of Anne’s diary—we get a glimpse of a real teenager who lived during a time in history that I have always thought of in terms of multiples and place names—the six million Jews, the five million non-Jews, the names of the concentration camps, the pictures of piles of bodies, the pictures of skeletonized survivors. In fact, the only thing I know about those of my own family who died in the camps was that they died in the camps. I know nothing about who they were, what they did, what they loved, what they yearned for.