The Diary of Anne Frank Killed Me
I was a depressed child, easy to discourage.
In the 7th grade I had a wonderful bond with my English teacher. Students were required to turn in a "journal" (kind of like a blog?) of one page or more. In my journal folder I expressed my wishes and creativity to florid feedback (kind of like blog comments?) every week. For a brief spell I had a mentor, a rare source of encouragement outside my confusing, hopeless, fighting household.
We were assigned an oral report book review, and I was excited to choose the grand, important, real Diary of Anne Frank.
It was bad enough to be in front of the blackboard, the only one standing, lips trembling. Acne. The cool kids.
Within my first sentence the whole thing went horribly wrong: "Anne Frank's diary was discovered in a garret after the Nazis captured ..." The teacher's face must have indicated it was okay for the class to get disorderly because the "ooooooo"'s rose like a mess of pigeons from the desks. Someone was in trouble.
Would you believe that my introduction to a book report of Anne Frank counted as a spoiler? I was dinged for "giving away the ending." I tried to argue: Frank's death was not the point of the book, wasn't included IN the book, and everyone knew she was dead by the time they picked up the book. In fact, her death was alluded to on the back cover. Can you even imagine a meaningful way to tell her story without disclosing her capture?
This, my only bad grade until that point, marked the moment I gave up on writing. My own refuge had been violated, my psyche smashed in that way I would have expected from my classmates but didn't think was even possible of this particular teacher. Years of observations were confirmed: you can't trust grown ups.
(I wonder, if I'd known that I was Jewish then [whole nother post] would this story have a different ending?)
* * * Comments * * *