This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
I could lie and go with a happy, upbeat, escapist read like Jackie Collins’ Lucky – that’s not to say that I don’t love JC’s books, I do, and devoured them all as a 15 year old when my life was pretty miserable, shortly before I ran away to London. I had an unhappy childhood and for much of the time I felt very isolated and alone, and to be fair, JC’s books did have an enormously positive impact on my life. But they didn’t change it? Not really. Yes, they gave me an escape, a coping mechanism, but that isn’t the same.
The book that truly changed my life is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I first read it when I was about 10 years old and managed to get about a third of the way through before I started having nightmares, waking up in the night crying for Anne, because the edition that I had contained photos of people enduring unimaginable suffering in concentration camps. I remember those nights so vividly; it was when I truly first looked outside of my own life and considered that not everyone else’s lives were idyllic, happy and perfect as I imagined. But Anne’s words were uplifting too, and it may seem cheesy, but she spoke to me, and from that moment on I felt I had a friend, an ally, somebody who understood how I felt, and she gave me the courage to write a diary too. That’s not to say that my life was anywhere near as horrific as Anne’s was towards the end, of course not, but the process of writing about what was happening in my own life was cathartic, and it’s how I came to be a writer in the first place, in secret, under the duvet.These are two of the standout sentences for me in The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, the book that changed my life:
‘I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.’
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‘Let me put it more clearly, since no one will believe that a thirteen year old girls is completely alone in the world.’
So powerful and honest, to this day these words give me shivers, yet comfort and hope too for whenever I feel alone, I can get out my copy of Anne’s diary, read a few pages and my childhood friend is right there again by my side.
The Great Village Show by Alexandra Brown is out now.