Juste's Reviews > What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander
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May 14, 12

Read from May 02 to 14, 2012

I am British and if I think about it, I can honestly say I have never knowingly met someone who is Jewish. In my small part of the world, there simply is no Jewish community, so all of my knowledge of Judaism comes from 3 years of mandatory religious education in high school and American films/TV programs. I start my review like this because it may explain to some why I didn't enjoy the book as other might.

This collection of short stories deals a lot in Jewish themes and history, quite a lot of which went over my head as they made references to events/ceremonies/superstitions/dogma that I had no knowledge of and could barely pronounce. This very possibly let slip a lot of the meaning and depth that a more worldly reader might appreciate.

As a whole I can't say I really enjoyed the book, one story I skipped over entirely because it was very hard to remain interested, and yet others I found both entertaining and thoughtful. My favourite stories in the book were probably 'Peep Show' and 'Camp Sundown', however both stories ultimately felt unfulfilled. It would be nice to see these tales fleshed out as although containing some of my favourite moments of the book, came across as rushed and lacking anything resembling a conclusion.

Despite criticisms, the book does on occasion drop some great lines. My favourite part of the book was in 'Camp Sundown'. The protagonist of the story is thinking on how every year the older people in his camp grow smaller, whilst the children grow bigger. This leads the character to the conclusion that there is only so much height in the world, and the inches must change hands.... such a lovely image and I think the book was worth the read just for that.
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