Book #10. All But My Life by Gerda Weissmann Klein

There is hardly a non-literary figure I will be interested to grab his or her memoir or autobiography. I think there are way more cool ways to express about his/her life than just plain prose with a singular perspective delivering specifically framed accounts of events. As such, I was unwilling to select this book, All But My Life by a Jewish-American Holocaust survivor, for my literature circle project. I was so inclined to choose The Boy in Stripped Pajamas, had it not been for a fellow member who is obviously far more bookish than myself.

One thing I liked about the book was its comparability with the beloved classic the Diary of Anne Frank. Of course the latter is also categorized as biography but there are way more authenticity and depth to it than any other conventional ones written by adults. I found many things similar between Anne Frank and Gerda who were two same-aged girls who lived at the same era at the same region of the world. They share similar preoccupations and feelings about their family, friends, dates, and school life in the brink of the War. It’s so heartbreaking to see how they miss their normal life that has been lost in the midst of the destruction and atrocities.

Her story is very compelling, but the author of five books did not show much effort to appeal to the international audience. For too many times I got a feeling from her prose that the author herself stays distant from the memory, which was of course almost a half century ago. In other words, her memoir does not really resonates with the current lives of young women as much as Anne Frank’s diaries do. For a global reader like myself, it is easy to distinguish between works that have been translated into 60 different languages and the ones that have not.


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