Annexed (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Annexed (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.5 69
by Sharon Dogar

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Everyone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex - but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?

In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter's point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling

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Everyone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex - but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?

In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter's point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her? Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together. To know you're being written about in Anne's diary, day after day? What's it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting.

As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them?

Anne's diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter's story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz - and ultimately the horrific fates of the Annex's occupants.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
A dramatic and ambitious companion to The Diary of Anne Frank, this fictionalized account of the two Jewish families in hiding is told from the point of view of Anne's companion in the secret annex, 15-year-old Peter van Pels. Although he bemoans that he is an artist instead of a writer like Anne, Peter is articulate as he ponders the fate of the Jewish people ("We're like water swirling down the plughole--soon there'll be none of us left. The bath will be empty") and questions God's existence ("I can't believe in a God that lets this happen. I won't believe in a God who say Jews are his chosen people"). His observations of the other occupants--bookish Mr. Frank and his sharp-tongued wife; sour Dr. Pfeffer; and Anne's quiet sister, Margot--reveal Peter's sense of humor as well as underlying tensions in the group. Peter's feelings for Anne, moving from annoyance to intrigue and longing, are passionately conveyed as the two endure crowded living conditions, hunger, cold, and the danger of being discovered. Showing equal skill in bringing history to life and in capturing the spirit of a young man searching for his identity amid chaos, Dogar (Waves) has written a novel as provocative as it is devastating. Ages 12�up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Anne Frank is the most identifiable victim of the Holocaust because of her diary documenting two years in hiding with seven other people. This is the fictionalized story of Anne's boyfriend-in-hiding, Peter Van Pels. Guided by Anne's template, Dogar explores Peter's life in hiding as an internal monologue during his last days in the death camp. Dogar paints Peter as a more complex character than previously shown. Books based on Anne's story usually show Peter as shy and self-conscious, slow to learn, and clearly not a match for Anne's vivaciousness. In this incarnation, Peter is awkward in the presence of Anne and her sister, Margot, but has complex inner arguments about everything from the nature of captivity to the redundancy of organized religions. Much of Peter's inner torment revolves around the possibility that he will never experience physical love. The emotional and physical relationship between Anne and Peter grows gradually, but deteriorates when Anne places her writing ahead of her boyfriend. Dogar humanizes the characters of the elder Van Pels who have always been shown as argumentative and somewhat crude in comparison to the urbane Franks, especially the saintly Otto Frank. Gustie Van Pels, Peter's mother, is less of a stereotype and more the doting mother of an only son. Herman Van Pels is a flawed but caring father. The book's strongest chapters take place in Auschwitz. Here Dogar compellingly reconstructs the process of dehumanization that took place in the death camps and of Peter's will to live so that he can fulfill Anne's mandate to tell the story, even as he is marched to his death. A powerful and controversial book that can be paired with Holocaust memoirs to find the truth and fiction of this darkest chapter of human history. Suggest that students read Anne's diary first, so that they have perspective on this book of historical fiction. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
VOYA - Sarah Cofer
In this imaginary tale, Dogar presents the heartbreaking story of Peter van Pels, the boy who fell in love with Anne Frank. When Peter enters the Annex in 1942, he is almost sixteen, almost a man. Plagued with nightmares and frightening thoughts, Peter seeks solace in the attic where he can see a little piece of sky. As he watches the seasons pass, Peter goes through a whirlwind of emotions contemplating why Jews are hated, why is he hiding instead of fighting, why he should survive when so many are dying. At first, Peter finds Anne to be an annoyingly chatty child who is always insulting him and behaves as if their predicament is a "house party." Over time, Peter finds great comfort in Anne's company as he begins to notice her scent, her changing shape as she becomes a woman, and that he enjoys making her smile. Annexed stands out as one of the best books published this year and is a must-purchase for all public and school library collections. Dogar's writing is poetic and gripping, drawing the reader deep into Peter's story. Peter's emotions are raw and honestly portrayed; he is a teenage boy facing death, scared that he will never get to do something as simple as make love to a woman. Even though the ending has been foretold, Dogar adds a new layer to the story through Peter, whose voice is hauntingly accurate. Going beyond the betrayal in the annex, Dogar explores what daily life would have been like for Peter in Auschwitz and does a fabulous job of imagining Peter's tale while keeping Anne Frank's story and the historical facts intact. Readers do not need to read The Diary of Anne Frank to enjoy Annexed, though it serves as an excellent companion novel and a wonderful addition to Holocaust literature for teens. Reviewer: Sarah Cofer
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Based on Anne Frank's diary, Sharon Dogar's compelling story (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) is told from the viewpoint of Peter Van Pels, the 15-year-old boy whose family joined the Franks in hiding in an annex in Amsterdam during World War II. The close quarters and rationed food shared by eight people makes life difficult. At the outset, Anne drives Peter crazy with her energy and enthusiasm, but as the story progresses an adolescent attraction takes hold. The two spend a great deal of time together in the attic of the annex and confide in each other their thoughts on the ethnic cleansing of the Jews and what will ultimately become of them. Once the families are betrayed, the story continues beyond where Anne was forced to abandon it. We follow Peter to the concentration camps where he is separated from the Frank women and his own mother and experience life there through Peter's eyes until he, too, becomes a victim of the Nazis. The main narrator pulls listeners in with an urgent and whispery tone that highlights the danger faced by Peter and his family. The full-cast narration is pitch perfect and brings us a vivid sense of each character as an individual, in stark contrast to their lack of individualism in the hands of the Nazis. The narration is one of the best uses of a full cast since Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. Every library should have this audiobook as an example of excellence in narration and because this story of prejudice and hate can never be repeated too often.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews - Kirkus Reviews

A bold move. Dogar writes with respect, but to tell the story of Anne Frank and her companions in the Annex from Peter Van Pels's perspective invites controversy, which may overshadow the story itself. Peter's dying thoughts (completely imagined, as there is little documentation of his life after the Annex was raided) are interspersed with events readers will likely recognize from Anne's diary, but in Peter's eyes Anne annoys as well as enchants. Less hopeful than Anne, Peter mostly thinks about his burgeoning sexuality and his loss of faith. The author's writing is assured and at times poetic, and it truly soars in the wrenching and powerful (and fully fictional) camp scenes; knowing the characters and outcome from the outset robs the Annex portion of the story of some depth and nuance. As a companion to Anne's diary, this fascinating read raises great questions about truth, narrative and perspective, but it may strike some as exploitative, needless or otherwise questionable. Ultimately powerful, but much of this feels like an exercise despite the love and artistry apparent in the writing. (preface, epilogue, author's note, further reading) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

Demco Media
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

May 1945 —Peter: Austria, 
Mauthausen, sick bay

I think I’m still alive.

But I’m not sure.

I’m ill.

I must be because I’m lying down. We never lie down.

In the camps there’s no such thing as rest.

I should be carrying rocks up the quarry steps. It’s a long way to the top of the quarry. I never know if I will make it. If someone ahead of us falls, we all fall—unless we’re quick.

Sometimes the guards wait until one of us is on the very last step, already thinking of laying down his burden, of the relief of letting down the weight. That’s when they reach out with their boots and kick us down. We fall like dominoes.

That’s all I remember, falling down the side of the quarry. I feel my body jolt and bounce. I feel the other bodies land on me. I am crushed, bony body on bony body. We are all so sharp now. My bones crunch. I am suffocating. The bodies move off me, the dead pushed aside by the living. I can breathe. My bones click back into place. I am alive and must get up, or I will be piled up with the dead. I try to stand.

I can see why the guards laugh. I look like a puppet. A puppet of bones with his strings all cut. I stand. I walk. I go on. But I know that really I am still dead on the ground, that each day a piece of us dies.

And we let it die. We have to—to survive. Soon someone will come and wake me and the nightmare will begin. I’m waiting for the word, that word:


Wake up. If they come, then I must stand up and work, or I must die. Perhaps I am already dying. Everyone does in the end, there’s no other way out. And now it’s my turn.

It’s a relief.

The problem with lying down is that it brings memories. They keep on coming, reminding me of who I am.

The world.

My life.

The German Jews have a word for it.


The longing for home. We avoid it if we can. It can be fatal.

I am hot. My head aches. My body hurts. These are just words, they don’t explain the pain. The way my bones grind against each other. There are no words for pain like this.

But the memories are worse—pictures of a time before. Of a time I must deny, so that when they come to wake me I can go on. Put one foot in front of the other, pretending that there is only this moment, this day, this night to get through—and survive.

To tell my story.

But the memories persist; they push at the edges of my resistance. They spill. There was a girl, wasn’t there? There was a place. A place where the leaves fell like golden coins from a tree into the water as we watched through the attic window . . . and before that there was a home, a street, a world, a girl I loved . . .

Part 1: 
The Annex 
July 13, 1942 —Peter van Pels: 
Amsterdam, Zuider-Amstellaan

I’m running through the streets; it’s early morning and the sun tries to break through the mist. My footsteps echo. My thoughts race: I’m not going into hiding. I’m not going into hiding—especially not with the Franks!

I don’t know where I’ll go; I only know that I can’t do it. I can’t stay locked up in a tiny apartment with two girls (especially not Anne Frank) and Mutti and Mrs. Frank! Just because Father does business with them doesn’t mean we have to like them! I’d rather take my chances on the streets.

My feet hit the pavement. Somewhere behind me there’s the sound of an engine. I know at once what it is. We all know the sound—a military vehicle.

I slow down, keep to the shadows. It’s still curfew time for Jews, not that I look like a Jew.

I’m nearly there.

At Liese’s house.


I whisper her name. I imagine her face, her violet eyes and her soft dark hair. I imagine what she might do when I tell her I’m running. She might hold me; she might lie down in the grass with me. She might . . .

I need to concentrate. I need to get over the wall and into her back garden.

I take a run and try to vault it. It’s high. I miss.

The sound of the engine comes closer.

I hit the wall with my left foot, and with fear fueling my fist I grab the top of it with my right hand—and this time I make it.

I drop onto the grass. Breathe hard and reach around me feeling for a stone, a twig, anything I can throw at her window to wake her.

But something stops me. I listen. The streets are silent. There’s no sound. That means the engine’s stopped. I stand completely still. Did they see me? Are they searching through the streets right now, listening, waiting for me to give myself away—to make a sound?

Into the silence comes a banging, a crashing of fists on the door and voices shouting.

"Open up! Open up!"

I stand in the garden, frozen. I watch as the lights come on. I see Liese’s face appear briefly behind the window as she draws back the curtains—then she’s gone. I watch as the whole family reappears behind the lit-up window of the sitting room. They’re wearing their nightclothes. They gesticulate, argue, but in the end they pack their cases, put on their coats, and disappear—with Liese.

I know they’re calling up teenage girls. I know that’s why we’re going into hiding, because Margot Frank has been called up. But I never thought it would happen to Liese.

I try to run to her, but my legs won’t move; my hand’s still behind me holding the stone. I don’t know how long it is before I can move again, before I vault the wall and run to the corner of the street, but I know it’s too late. The van’s already moving. I watch it turn the corner and speed away.

With Liese in it.

I start to run. I run hard but the van’s already racing down the street.



The van goes on, disappearing. I keep on running until I’m on my knees. Too late.

Too late.

She’s gone.

I can’t believe it. Why? Why her? Why now?

I turn back to the house. The door’s locked but I know where the key’s kept. Slowly, I unlock the door. Everything is neat and tidy.The piano lid is open—Liese’s favorite piece of music is on the stand. Everything looks the same, but the house is empty of her and so everything is completely different. Where have they taken her—and why did they take all of them? Where shall I go now?

I don’t know what to do.

I look out the window onto the street. I look at my watch. Six twenty-two. I’m meant to be at Mr. Frank’s workplace in a few hours. We’re arriving separately, all of us. We’ll walk into the building just like it was any other visit—only this time we’ll never walk out again.

We’ll stay in there.

We don’t know for how long.

I stare out the window.

The early-morning streets are empty, and so am I. I can’t think of anything—except the van disappearing, and the fact that I stood there and let it happen! How did I ever think I could escape them, or fight them?

She’s gone.

And I know what I’m doing.

I’m going into hiding.

I wait and watch as the streets fill with people. I wait and watch the sun get higher. I wait and watch the world come to life. I wait knowing that I’m not running anywhere because there’s nowhere to run to.

I look out the window.

The world I can see isn’t my world anymore—it’s theirs: the National Socialist German Workers’ Party’s—the Nazis’. They’ve taken it away from me—piece by piece. I can’t ride in trams or cars like everybody else. I can’t swim in the same

water or sit and watch films in the same cinema. I can’t shop in gentile shops. I can’t sit in the street. I can’t drink from the water fountains. I can’t walk anywhere without a star on my chest. I can’t . . . I can’t . . . I can’t do anything. If someone decides to attack me I can’t expect any help—and I mustn’t fight back. If I do, then they might beat me to death, and no one would stop them. If I don’t fight back, then I’m exactly what they say I am—a cowardly Jew-boy.

I don’t exist anymore. They’ve turned me into a nobody so that they can wipe me off the face of the earth.

It feels so obvious to me now.

I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.

How did I miss it?

How did I ever think I could escape?

How did I ever think I could fight?

I should leave now. It’s time. I find a satchel and a spare jacket with a star sewn onto it, but then at the last minute I decide not to wear it. If this is my last walk through the city I’m going to do it free—as me—and if anything happens, if they find me—then let them.

The walk to Prinsengracht is a long way, maybe an hour. At the end of it is a warehouse; at the top of the warehouse, hidden at the back, is an annex.

No one knows it’s there, except the workers who’ll help hide us. Father says we’re lucky, lucky he happens to be in business with Mr. Frank. Lucky Mr. Frank’s asked us to join his family in hiding. I don’t think so. I’d rather be in America.

I’ve got a diagram of the Annex. I know where to go in, which stairs I have to use, and how to find my way to the back of the house where the rooms are hidden. Where I’ll be hidden.

I should go now.

If  I’m going.

I’m on the street. The sun is on my face. There is no star on my chest. I’m free for another hour. One more hour. The whole world feels strange around me: pin-sharp and beautiful. Without my star I get no pitying looks. I’ve forgotten what it’s like not to be noticed. I stop. I drink from a fountain. Mutti would be horrified. I could be arrested, killed, sent away if I was found out. A Jew, drinking from a fountain! I could infect all the non-Jews, but with what?

What is it we’ve got that’s so evil?

"Beautiful morning!" a woman says, and smiles. I smile back, but inside I’m thinking, I’m a Jew, you stupid woman, can’t you see? Can’t you even tell what I am without my star to guide you? Here, I think of saying to her, put it on. If you feel so sorry for us why don’t you all wear them, and then who would know the difference between us?

But I don’t say anything.

I just smile back.

And walk away.

The walk is over quickly—too quickly.The wide avenues turn into the small canals and streets around the center of Amsterdam. And then I’m there. I’m at the warehouse—263 Prinsengracht. I stare at the wide, wooden warehouse doors and at the narrow door up the steps that I’m meant to go through.

I’m scared.

I want to run. I want to run and run and never stop until I find Liese. I’ll hold her hand, and we’ll run together until we find some woods, some hills, some caves to hide in. But there aren’t any—only flatlands. We’ve already fled from Germany to here. And now we’re surrounded. The Nazis are everywhere: Luxembourg, Belgium, France. Holland is just a small pocket in a whole coat made of Nazis. There is nowhere else for us to run. I stare at the doors.

I feel sick.

I feel the sun hot on my back.

I turn and look down the street. I shouldn’t be doing this, I shouldn’t be doing anything that draws attention to me— but I can’t help it. I turn and look down the long, narrow street. I look at the trees and the water of the canal. I look at the people walking past me, but it doesn’t matter now how long I stand here, looking. Nothing will change.

Liese’s not coming back. I’m probably never going to see her again.

My name is Peter van Pels. I’m nearly sixteen years old. I walk up the stone steps and turn the handle of the narrow wooden door. I push it open and step forward. The door closes itself behind me.

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