It is over 50 years since Anne Frank kept her diary in hiding! What a contrast to the freedom that most of us live in. I am fascinated my girl’s diaries. Obviously, as my latest book is a girl’s diary, The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything). I’m sharing with you my review of Anne Frank’s diary. Have you read Anne Frank, since you became a grown-up? If not, it is well worth a re-read. If you are younger than a grown-up I’d love to know how her diary strikes you, living in today’s world. Hoping to hear from you so we can continue to dialog!
The last time I really read the diary of Anne Frank, I was nine, in Sunday school in Connecticut and pretty miserable. I had my own issues-some of the girls made fun of me, I couldn’t learn to read Hebrew (no one had recognized that I had a learning disability) and I wanted nothing more than to really belong. Anne’s diary made me cry and feel even more miserable.
This time, I’m a grown-up. In fact my kids are grown. I’m a psychologist in private practice, with an emphasis on positive psychology. That means I encourage hope and optimism in my clients. I help them look for their talents and even lost potential. And I just wrote a book in diary form, written by a 10-11 year old girl, to help girls and their moms get in touch with the best of themselves. Sooo, things are very different.
My reaction to reading Anne Frank this time was as if I had blinders taken away from my eyes. Instead of just seeing a girl in hiding and feeling oppressed with the sadness of her unfulfilled life, I saw a profoundly real teen-age girl with unbelievable wisdom and honesty. She seems to be the compilation of all the inner knowledge, wisdom, sexual and emotional development of all girls. She is almost like the western world’s Shakespeare for girls. For example, as a psychologist and a woman who was once a teenager, I was enthralled with her intimate feelings and thoughts around her crush on Peter. Lots of girls fall in love or have a crush, but few know how to process their feelings. In fact that is why ‘the girl’ in my new book, The Truth, falls in love, to help kids learn how to share these sorts of feeling. Anne understood so much about the ego development of a person in transition from child to woman. What she is able to put into words about her crush should help any girl experiencing deep and complex feelings.
I think every woman should take some time and re-read Anne Frank. You will certainly fall in love with her in a different way than the first time around. You may find yourself sobbing later, as I found myself, when her love of life and feelings and insights about growing-up, welled up inside of me with the realization that Anne never got a chance to do all the things that most of us women take for granted: the husband, the kids, the first apartment, friends over, pets, just getting out in the fresh air!
Anne held on to her ideals and dreams and she hoped that there would be a time that she could carry them out. She didn’t make it, but we have. And so if every woman who reads this book can just be a little more insightful, a little more caring, a little more loving, listen a little harder to kids and teens-then in a way, we have carried out, as best we can, her ideals. As a positive psychologist and woman, this is my opinion as to how to maintain hope, and fulfill not only her potential, but our own.
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
The Home of Positive Psychology for Women