Susan Goldman Rubin is the author of more than 35 books for children and adults. Her most recent title is Searching for Anne Frank: Letters From Amsterdam to Iowa (Abrams, 2003).
My older brother and his wife took me to see the play “The Diary of Anne Frank” on Broadway when it opened in 1955. I was about Anne’s age, 15, so I identified with her as a teenager and as a Jewish girl. I also read Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl and was deeply moved by her courage, her yearnings, her accurate understanding of adolescence.
Years later at the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, I was flabbergasted to come across little-known pen pal letters written by Anne and Margot, in English, in 1940 to two sisters their ages in Iowa. How did these American girls happen to correspond with the Frank sisters?
As I sifted through layers of information I reread Anne’s diary as well as her short stories and essays, and everything
I could find that had been written about her. In Amsterdam, I interviewed a woman who had been Anne’s best friend during their year at the Jewish Lyceum.
Anne was more of a real, well-rounded girl than I had realized. She loved movies and movie stars, especially those in America, and collected pictures of them. In her short story “Dreams of Movie Stardom” she fantasized about taking a trip to Hollywood and staying with two sisters who are movie stars. She loved boys and romance, yet she also wanted a career and planned to be a writer. Perhaps her isolation in hiding forced her to turn to writing as a comfort and as a substitute for friends.