Banned 9 - Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

It's a diary and I feel very uncomfortable talking about it because it's nonficiton... dammit just read this book.

Where did the young adult novel start? Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer? Robert Louis Stevenson with his pirates? Farther back? I have no idea, but for the modern novel written in the voice of youth, I would put my money on Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. The book has been placed on banned lists for its open discussion of the life of a Jewish family in hiding during the Holocaust, particularly newer editions that contain thoughts and descriptions of sex and the female body.

Written by a fourteen-year-old Anne Frank, the book describes her life living in an attic in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. Frank acts the part of a teenager in her prose, often spiteful and harmful in her depictions of her family and the others in the attic, yet with a keen insight and hope into the human condition that shows even in the darkest times people reach for each other. The inspiring words of this young girl, despite or even because of her death in a concentration camp after capture, ring true to even the most cynical heart.

The tale Frank tells in her own voice lays the ground work for later fiction, telling the story from Anne’s point of view. The diary begins before the family goes into hiding and follows their story well, either through editing or simple telling. The building the story to an anti-climax and sucker punch of an ending that saddens even if the reader goes into it knowing what happened. Simply put, Anne brings the reader into her world and charms the hell out of the reader, making the abrupt ending and reports of her death painful and impact all the more.

Opponents of the book range from the detractors of its veracity and parents who do not believe their children should be learning about their bodies at a young age. Over the years, several groups attempted to discredit the diary as a work of fiction despite the work being published by Otto Frank, Anne’s father and the only surviving member of those in the attic, and studies done that proved it true. A new edition of the book had items inserted that had been left out where Anne talked about her body, menstruation, and sex in general, at times almost clinical discussions by Anne of her own vagina. These new sections caused parents to ask the book be removed from school libraries and reading lists or replaced by the old copy. Hiding or erasing parts of uncomfortable truths is part of the human condition, though, something Anne new all too well.


Banned

1982 - Virginia - Challenged in Wise County after several parents complained the book contains sexually offensive passages

1983 - Alabama - Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the book's rejection because it is "a real downer."

1998 - Texas - Removed for two months from Baker Middle School in Corpus Christi after two books called the book pornographic. Students waged a letter writing campaign and a review committee recommended the book returned.

2010 - Virginia - Challenged at the Culpeper County public schools after a parent asked her child not be required to read the book aloud. Initial reports stated a version of the book was stopped being assigned for sexual material and homosexual themes. The version, the 50th anniversary edition, would not be taught despite the school not following its own complaint policy. The Internet caught the story and it drew international attention. The book remained part of the curriculum, possibly at another grade level.

2013 - Michigan - Challenged but retained in the Northville middle schools despite anatomical descriptions in the book. Opponents to the challenge wrote that the book shown a positive light on the changing female body as Frank was hiding from Nazis.


Sources

Doyle, Robert P. Banned Books: Challenging Our Freedom to Read. 2014.



"Dances and Dames"

Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

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