Review: Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Diary Edited by Ari Folman, Illustrated by David Polonsky

The only graphic novelization of Anne Frank’s diary that has been authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and that uses text from the diary–it will introduce a new generation of young readers to this classic of Holocaust literature.Anne Frank's Diary- The Graphic Diary 9-- bookspoilsThis one isn’t an easy one to quickly wrap my mind (or words) around. There’s so much to be said and done that it all sits so heavy on my heart. I’ll begin by mentioning that I received the opportunity to read the original Hebrew version of this book, courtesy of a lovely librarian at my local library.

And I’ll go on to admit that I struggled quite a lot with the start of this graphic diary. In particular, I had trouble with Anne Frank’s hurtful depiction of the eight people surrounding her, from those forced into hiding with her, as well as the disrespect targeted at her own family members. I was particularly struck when I read the page declaring, quite bluntly so, that she considered the relationship with her mother so unstable that she wouldn’t care if her mother died. It was one of the cruelest sayings, especially under their utterly dire circumstance. And then it rolled on to her nonstop ridicule of Mrs. Van Daan… And I couldn’t stand by idly reading about all the above, knowing that these are real people that died the most horrendous of deaths and cannot defend their honor; all that remains of them are these jarring depictions of their behavior under the most inhumane circumstances, and it was painful to read.

So I was relieved when Anne Frank acknowledged in later journey entries that her previous uncompromising points of view on her family was less than unfair. Empathy is key in familial discourse.

It’s true, she didn’t understand me, but I didn’t understand her either.

With that admission in mind, the book did a turning point for me, where I could finally feel myself growing more attached to Anne as a person, from finding a loyal companion in the blank pages of her notebook to seeing herself as an aspiring writer to capturing her rightful hate towards Nazi Germans (that depicts my own), assessing her self-awareness, which had me so enraptured while reading that it deserves to be shared:

In everything I do, I can watch myself as if I were a stranger. I can stand across from the everyday Anne and, without being biased or making excuses, watch what she’s doing, both the good and the bad. This self-awareness never leaves me, and every time I open my mouth, I think, ‘You should have said that differently’ or ‘That’s fine the way it is.’ I condemn myself in so many ways that I’m beginning to realize the truth of my Father’s adage: ‘Every child has to raise itself.’ Parents can only advise their children or point them in the right direction. Ultimately, people shape their own characters.

As well as her line on trying to do and be better: I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am . . . on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself.

There’s so much more to be said, but I’ll just share the pages that got it all right:Anne Frank's Diary- The Graphic Diary 1-- bookspoilsAnne Frank's Diary- The Graphic Diary 3-- bookspoils

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5/5 stars

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Review: Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith by Gina B. Nahai

I was keen on finding a read with tints of magical realism in it, when I came across this wonder of a book centered on just that, with the added bonus of featuring the Jewish ghetto of Tehran.

Similar to one of my favorite multigenerational books, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, this reads starts off on a prominent related cast of female characters with a hint of otherworldliness in their everyday life. Spinning tales of signs and superstitions, falling victim to the inevitability of Destiny, featuring dreams and memories of ghosts, and stories of wayward ancestors, it seemed like I’d hit jackpot with picking up Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith.

All they wanted was to stay in one place long enough to belong. 

And for the first part of the book, I had nothing but praise in my words. I especially appreciated the grand, layered storytelling that reveals itself with time. You’re never sure of a single thing until you’ve followed the tale and its characters to the end. Which is where my appreciation for the peculiar side characters comes in. Their world, full of superstition, had me in its spinning webs. Most notably, Alexandra the Cat, whose every move was clouded with an air of mystery, was the first to catch my attention. Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith 1-- bookspoils

This above passage was a prime example of having a storyline that doesn’t disappear with the next chapter. And having it all click together was beyond satisfying to experience.

Which is what saddened me most about the novel, knowing that the minute our main character, Roxanna, would move away from her family’s home, and later her place at Alexandra’s, the book would deteriorate in time.

Because unlike the novel I mention at the start of my review, the Jewish theme, which I thought would be a prevalent one and what had me so keen on reading this book, was practically non-existent the more I read on; it disappeared with the generations. And I don’t feel like I learned anything solid about the cultural value within the Jewish ghetto of Tehran. I feel like we barely received any scenes of camaraderie, or even simple dialogue exchanged between the Iranian-Jewish characters to receive some semblance of home and community.

It also didn’t help that at the same time that I put all these points together, Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith was starting to lose its steam for me. Knowing this book wasn’t going to have a saving grace in the upcoming pages for me, I decided it best to quit ahead, as I could feel myself growing agitated and furious with the upcoming storyline.

It’s such a shame as well because this started out as an interesting tale of intersecting family lines and dealing with the burden of Destiny, yet ended on such a miserable case of virtually abandoning all the character building we had for Roxanna’s family, and instead putting the focus on her new marital home where she feels like an outsider, and as a result, so did I as the reader. All this leads in the end to her daughter, Lili, being stuck in the hands of strangers, which is where the utter disregard for their religion is shown most notably in the form of sending her off to a Catholic school… While her mother is off doing who knows what to reach her supposed ‘freedom’ that she didn’t even get to receive.Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith 2-- bookspoilsAt a certain point, the book just hit a point where the story wasn’t really moving forward or contributing any valid information that propelled the characters along. Like, there’s literally a whole page dedicated to expanding on a random bus driver who has no point in the overarching theme… And I had to put a stop to it by declaring enough is enough.

Bottom line: I’d only recommend reading this book for its introducing fifty-something pages that encompass and expand on so much.

2.5/5 stars

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Review: This Is Me Letting You Go by Heidi Priebe

I had no clue before reading that this was the mastermind behind one of my favorite sayings: the people we meet at the wrong time are actually just the wrong people. Which I shared last year in my review for Rania Naim’s All The Words I Should Have Said.

In this series of 30 honest and poignant essays, Heidi Priebe explores the harsh reality of what it means to let go of the people and situations we love most – often before we are ready to – and how to embrace what comes next.

I couldn’t have picked this up at a more precise time in my life. This Is Me Letting You Go was exactly the kind of reaffirming book, full of genuine, wide-open hearts, I needed so badly to back me up. And I’ll be sure to circle back to it time and again. Which is why I’m going to share some of those invaluable pieces of writing so that I can come back to it:

I’m Texting You This Because I Like You

“I’m not texting you the link to this website because I think you’re actually going to like it. I mean you might, and that would be great, but I mostly just want your reply. What do you think of this thing that I find funny? What in your mind lines up with mine and where does it deviate? What do I enjoy that you despise? What do you analyze that I glaze over unnoticed? I’m texting you this because I want to know your thoughts on something – anything, really. Your mind is an infinite library that I would like to peruse for a while.”

Oh, how I love that last line…

The Truth About Meeting Someone At The Wrong Time

“The right people don’t make you hmm and haw about whether or not you want to be with them; you just know. ”

Read This If You’re Worried That You’ll Never Find ‘The One’

This essay challenged my perception a lot, and I am beyond grateful for it doing so. This one question, in particular, liberated me: “But imagine for a second that you knew – with 100% certainty – that you were never going to meet that person. What about your life would that knowledge change?”

I will never tire of having a collection that makes you stop to think its points over! Though I didn’t agree with all the sentiments shared, it was so refreshing to read pieces of writing I thought would veer towards the usual cliche, but instead, it surprised me by talking about various topics in a deeply relatable way that aligned with my beliefs.

“So stop looking for The One to spend the rest of your life with. Be The One.

And let everybody else come searching for you.”

Read This If You Feel Like It’s Taking You Too Long To Move On

“If there’s anything I wish we could talk more about it’s the in-between stages of letting someone go. Because nobody lets go in an instant. You let go once. And then you let go again. And then again and again and again. You let someone go at the grocery store when their favorite type of soup is on sale and you don’t buy it. You let them go again when you’re cleaning your bathroom and have to throw out the bottle of the body wash that smells like them.”

“The truth is, none of us want to think of ourselves as works in progress. We want everything to happen instantaneously: Falling in love, falling out of it, letting go of what we know we ought to leave in the past and moving on to whatever comes next. We hate the in-between spaces – the times when we’re okay but not quite there yet. The periods where we suspect that growth is happening but have nothing to show for it.”

Here Is When You’ll Get Over Your Ex

“Some part of you knows better – that you have to wait this out. You have to take it in waves. You know that someday you’ll forget their birthday and they’ll forget yours too and until that day you keep yourself busy. You keep moving. And you keep letting the small details slide.”

“You will not get over your ex all at once. You’ll get over them through a series of tiny, tender moments that bring you quietly back to yourself.”

Just Be The One Who Cares More

“Being the one who cares less makes us feel cool and suave. But never anything more than that. It can’t even begin to compare with the excitement of meeting someone you are CRAZY about. Someone who lights up your day with every subtle interaction. Someone you cannot wait to see again. Someone you suddenly want to spend every waking moment with, even if that’s crazy and impulsive and happening way too fast. I know it’s a trial to be the one who cares more. But it’s also the most enthralling, fulfilling feeling and I’d like to urge you not to sell yourself short of it.”

This thought randomly brought me to Ron Swanson’s “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”  

“Be the person you wish you were dating.”

Here Is How You Stop Waiting For Someone To Come Back

“You stop waiting for someone to come back through a series of slow, deliberate steps that move you away from the life you thought you’d have and towards the one that’s waiting for you.”

“You have face forward toward the future you hadn’t planned for and the life you didn’t know that you would lead. ”

When You Have To Leave The Best Things Behind

“There’s nothing more difficult than walking away from what we love before we’re ready to. Even when every fibre of our being understands that we must go, we want to stay. We want to linger. We want to find a loophole or shortcut that allows us to have it all. We forget that there’s a future. Some incorrigible part of us so easily forgets that there are good things ahead. Better things ahead, even. And perhaps that’s what we need to understand the most fully when we’re facing those times of transition – that all our best moments aren’t all behind us.”

As one wise woman once said:

“Just because the scene in the rearview mirror looks nicer than the scene on the road ahead doesn’t mean you’ll never reach another beautiful destination. It just means you’re not there yet.”

This quote made me fully understand the power of words.


As you can see by the many, many quotes I inserted, I’m so relieved and glad that this collection didn’t peak at the ‘timing being wrong’ phrase I shared at the start of my review. I went in not expecting much and it blew me away. What a barrier breaker!

“The future we want will not arrive without our participation.”

And it goes without saying that some fitting music had to be played during my reading experience:

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying This Is Me Letting You Go, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!