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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Anna Is Still Here
by Ida Vos
Age Range: 12+
Thirteen-year-old Anna, a Dutch Jewish girl, has survived the war emerging from three years in hiding, during which she rarely spoke. Attempting to resume a normal life, Anna returns to school and is reunited with her parents. She finds it hard to adapt, experiencing nightmares fuelled by the terrible things she knows her parents are keeping from her and she imagines that a figure she has seen lurking behind a curtain in a nearby house is a Nazi. Anna has heard about the concentration camps and is aware that her best friend Marga has been murdered in one. Her eagerness to rejoin the world is impeded by her struggle to accommodate this terrible knowledge and her own terrors.
Anna’s father patiently teaches her to speak loudly again and she also discovers that the dreaded figure behind the curtain in the White House is actually Mrs Neumann, another Jewish survivor, who refuses to give up hope that her young daughter, Fannie is still alive. The depiction of the prejudice against the Jews still rife in Holland, the sometimes callous lack of sympathy for survivors together with the bitterness toward collaborators provide a backdrop to this novel. Vos has produced a moving portrayal of a young girl’s attempt to readjust and the price of survival based on her own wartime experiences.