Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Last week I blogged about Annexed, the historical novel by Sharon Dogar which tells the Anne Frank story from Peter Van Pels point of view.

Dogar has taken some heat for writing this book because naturally, the Anne Frank diary has come to feel sacred to us.

And, after all, her story is true.

Annexed, on the other hand, is a novel written by an author who was not there to know what Peter experienced.
But novels are true too. They may have fictional characters and made-up scenarios but they carry an emotional truth that is as essential as getting the facts straight. Dogar immersed herself in the facts of Anne Frank's story and the broader history surrounding it.  She gleaned emotional truth from Anne's diary, from other research, and from her understanding of human nature.  From that compassionate and careful position she told a truthful story.

I hope you will watch the video below in which Dogar discusses her intent.

Some of the heat she's taken has been unnecessary because it claims that she sexualized the relationship between Peter and Anne. She did not. Dogar may believe that Anne and Peter had sex but she did not include it in the book.  In fact, the amount of kissing in Annexed was less than that mentioned in The Diary of a Young Girl.

Peter is a teen-aged boy so there are some moments when he's alone in his room struggling with sexual feelings.   If I had written the book, I might not have portrayed those scenes in quite the way Dogar did but I don't see them as problematic for todays teens.

The whole point of the story is not sex at all.  It is personhood.  Peter is struggling to hang on to his sense of self in a world spiralling into the depths.  Dogar raises haunting questions about that world and for that reason I champion this extraordinary book and the brave author who followed the story that would not let her go. In the end that's what a writer has to do.

BTW, Annexed has a website all its own.  Do check it out!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joyce,

    Watching the video about Annexed has me tearing up. Oh what the book must do. I must read it. Thanks so much for sharing your insights and the video. POWERFUL!

    Linda A.