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Renia's Diary: A Holocaust Journal

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,179 ratings  ·  325 reviews
The long-hidden diary of a young Polish woman's last days during the Holocaust, translated for the first time into English, with a foreword from American Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt.

Renia Spiegel was a young girl from an upper-middle class Jewish family living on an estate in Stawki, Poland, near what was at that time the border with Romania. In the summer of 1939
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by St. Martin's Press (first published June 2016)
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Isaiah The translator might have made an effort to keep the poems with a similar feel. Some translators do exact translations and some go out of their way to…moreThe translator might have made an effort to keep the poems with a similar feel. Some translators do exact translations and some go out of their way to try and keep the feeling and flow the same too. I am going to think that it was a conscious choice in this case, though I don't read Polish and have not seen the original text. It is very much a passion project so it makes the most sense. (less)
Pamela Terhune I read that it was written in Polish, but translated into English by Renia's niece; the woman behind this project.

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Angela M
Sep 16, 2019 rated it liked it
When I finished this, I didn’t think that it would be fair to rate it. How do you rate someone’s diary, an intimate look at someone’s inner thoughts, secrets, a diary that is not necessarily meant for anyone else to read? I ultimately decided that since I have rated Anne Frank’s diary (5 stars), I should rate this one. So it’s three stars, mainly because it was a struggle for me to read a large part of this which is focused on the day to day reflections of a teenage girl with all of its angst, s ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

Well, I have been sitting on my review and rating for this book all weekend. Often my fellow reviewers of Holocaust non fiction have commented how difficult it is to rate a person's life story. In reading Renia's Diary:A Holocaust Diary I do find myself struggling to articulate my feelings on this diary.

Renia Spiegel's story is important and relevant and her sister's determination to share her dia
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This diary contains important excerpts for comparative literature in the classroom. Readers see a diary significantly different than Anne Frank’s, in that Renia Spiegal was socially living out and about as a Jew in Przemysl, Poland. When Poland was conquered and divided between Russia and Germany under the Nazi-Soviet pact, Renia and other family members were split up for many years. Renia lived in Soviet-occupied Poland, while her mother lived in German-occupied Poland on the other side of the ...more
Veronica ⭐️
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, true-story, a
Renia’s Diary is the journal entries of Polish born Renia Spiegel from 1939, age 15 until 1942 when she was murdered, at age 18, by the Nazi’s.

Diaries are an important part of holocaust history. They allow us to hear the voice of those that did not survive. The diarist is writing in the present and has no idea what today’s events may have on things to come.

Renia writes in her diary as if talking to a friend. It is filled with teenage angst; first love, fi
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a difficult book to review for a lot of reasons but I want to start by getting it out of the way that ~90% of Renia Spiegel’s nearly 700 page diary is about her infatuation with Zygmunt Schwarzer (Zygus). Yes, she’s a teenage girl and this should be expected but I think that all the news articles and marketing comparing this to Anne Frank’s diary is so misleading.

Anne’s diary is unbelievably comprehensive. She is incredibly observant of those around her, what they’re doing, complaining a
As more and more Holocaust survivors pass away, it’s important that people read about their experiences so that they won’t be forgotten, and hopefully, something like that will never happen again.

Renia’s Diary is a written record about a young Polish girl who, unfortunately, did not survive. She was smart, kind, and full of hope for her future. She was a budding poet, and had won awards at her school for her poetry. Her diary is similar to those of many teens - reflecting the angst about relatio
Lisa Leone-campbell
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Renia Spiegel was born in Poland and at the age of 18 died by a gunshot to the head for being Jewish. She died a victim of the Holocaust. Between the ages of 15 to 18, Renia kept a diary. It took over 50 years for her 700 pages of diary to find its way to her sister Ariana (Elizabeth as she is now known as). And now it has found its way to us.

In her diary Renia not only chronicles her struggles, but the helplessness of her family and friends who endured as well. Renia kept a record of her daily
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I feel a little churlish saying how little I engaged with this book, for it's obviously a labour of love and a heartfelt production from the family members who knew the author. But this diary had too little of the War for me, far too much poetry about the angst teenaged love involves, and far too much weeping for her mother. I can see a readership similar to Renia empathising more, but at the remove in age, experience and gender that I have, I didn't gel with many of the contents here. I couldn' ...more
Bev Walkling
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and #NetGalley for allowing me to read an e-galley of this book. What follows is my honest review.

First of all, I feel very privileged to have been able to read this book. The author, Renia Spiegel never intended it to be read by the public. It was a deeply personal look at her life and feelings from January 1939 until her death at the hands of the Nazi's just after her 18th birthday in 1942. At times while reading it I felt almost like a voyeur seeing her most
Renia was murdered by the Nazis and for that, she deserves to be remembered. But the premise of this book is misleading. For all but the last two weeks of her life, Renia mostly lived the life of a typical teenage girl experiencing young love. To say that her writing is self-absorbed is not an insult, but a reflection of the classic teenage experience where every perceived slight, glance from a boy, or disagreement with a friend is a huge deal to be endlessly turned over in one's mind. Renia had ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've seen a lot of other reviews mentioning that this book is hard to rate. I think mainly because people go into reading a book that is the diary of a teenage girl in Poland during WW2, and they expect more commentary and personal insight into the war. This book, or at least the actual section that is her diary, reads exactly like a teenage girl's diary, at almost any point in history. It was very clear that she was not writing with any idea that it would be published or would be looked at as a ...more
Sarah Schuelke
Oct 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019-challenge
This book was a waste of my time. All you need to know is that she loves Zygu and misses her mom. That is the entirety of the book. No way is this book even close to Anne Frank's diary.
Quick review for an overarching progressive read that took me far too long to finish, relatively speaking. This was a difficult read for many reasons, and not simply for the subject matter in and of itself. If there's something to be said, Renia Spiegel was a remarkable young woman whose life was taken far too soon, far before it really had a chance to begin. That's what made going through her diary carry a lot of weight, because on one hand she saw many horrors as they occurred and the other of ...more
Tonstant Weader
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Renia’s Diary is a valuable historical document, the diary of a Jewish girl’s life under both Soviet and Nazi occupation She was just fourteen when she began writing in her diary where she was very frank about her feelings. Most of the diary is focused on her social life, her friend Norka and her frenemy Irka, and her great love Zigmund.

Renia was a poet and her book is overflowing with poems she wrote. The vary in quality and some of it may be a matter of translation. Some are translated so they
Sep 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
I hate to admit I could not even force myself to finish Renia's Diary, which is most disappointing as I really looked forward to reading it. I find books about WWII fascinating.

Admittedly, whenever reading someone's diary, you are subject to their most mundane thoughts and ramblings. When reading a teenager's diary, that is amplified considerably. I so wanted to look past that to see history in the making through her young eyes. However at 40% into the book, I was still mired in ramblings, crush
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I really struggled with this one. The majority of this diary was the expected thoughts, crushes and dramas of a typical teenage girl. However I was hoping for more of a historical record of the events of World War II and the plight of the Jewish people. Honestly I got none of that until the last few pages. However the poetry she wrote is just beautiful and moving. I just had a hard time really getting drawn into her life.
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
When reading this book, we have to remember that it is a diary of a teenaged girl. Some reviews that I have read are critical of the writing or content, but we have to remember that even while WWII and German occupation took place....the children were still growing up and still trying to be children.... and teenagers will be teenagers! I believe that it would prove helpful to read the Epilogue and Elizabeth’s Commentary at the back of the book before reading the actual book! I read them afterwar ...more
Elaine Stock
I cannot rate this true-life book, which will have me looking at parts over and over through the years, I'm sure. A bittersweet story (because one knows what will happen) of a teen missing her mom, and falling in love, and trying to live a "normal" teen life when the world around her is anything but normal. Should be studied more than enjoyed as entertainment.
Lee Husemann
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
My favorite part of this book was the Commentary by Renia's younger sister, Ariana (Elizabeth) near the end of the book. Renia's diary read much like what I remember from when I was a teenager which consisted of relationships with male and female friends and acquaintances, school difficulties, parties and worrying about boyfriends. Renia was obviously a very gifted writer and her diary included a lot of poems most of which I just skimmed over because I am not into poetry. The book was good but I ...more
Hungry for Words ~ Mélanie
This diary is truly unique because it contains lots of poems. It can be read like a poetry book as well as a diary. I do prefer to read diaries about the Shoah more so than memoirs or historical texts because the person writing it doesn't know the future events and is not aware of the outcomes.

Lots of people seem to have criticised the fact that Renia spends a lot of time talking about her boyfriend and her student parties. First, I think it's difficult to be critical of her style or journal ent
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Renia’s Diary, a true diary written by a young Jewish teen that lived in Poland, is a true diary of her own words. The beginning and followup pages to delve into more information, is written by her sister who’s name is now Elizabeth.

This, like all other Holocaust memoirs whether survivor or victim, is a remarkable and touching tribute to a woman taken too early.
This document is touching, heart-wrenching, and absolutely needed to keep these wonderful souls known to our generation and for the ge
Paige Green
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Renia’s Diary: A Holocaust Journal

Author: Renia Spiegel

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Jewish main character and side characters

Publication Date: September 24, 2019

Genre: YA History

Recommended Age: 14+ (teen angst, some love, inner thoughts, some violence, some horrifying events especially at the end)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 336

Amazon Link

Synopsis: The long-hidden diary of a young Po
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Being a grandmother, it is difficult for me to rate the diary of a young girl, her thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

Reina's diary is an excellent book for teenagers, or young adults in their twenties. It is an important perspective of life lived through the eyes of a young girl, a young girl who perished in the Holocaust.

Many individuals have compared her diary to that of Anne Frank's. In my opinion, that is not the right thing to do. Each diary is written from a personal perspective, with e
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a hard book to review, but I gave 5 stars to all the diaries of the Romanov girls which were even less designed for public consumption than Renia’s. I did feel like I could connect very well with the narrator and her various hopes, fears, and mood swings, being around her age myself. She shows such promising talent and has such a distinctive voice. While I wish there had been more about the war and more background information given as the inside jokes were sometimes hard to parse, I do u ...more
Laura Beard
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
So it’s hard to rate a teenager’s diary, especially one that she never intended to be published. I really enjoyed the historical notes at the beginning and the part by her sister at the end. It was hard to get through the diary at times due to her infatuation with her boyfriend and teenage drama with friends.
Jean Blankenship
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Renia’s Diary by Elizabeth Bellak
Such a sad feeling after finishing
this story. I would have liked to have read Elizabeth Bellak’s Commentary first, so that I could have understood
Renia’s Diary better. The Diary was written by a young girl starting at the age of 14. Sometime it was hard to follow and only understood it at the end of the book. Renia’s Diary tells of her longing for her Mother and how much she misses her, her love for Zygmunt, who she loved very much, her friends and how the war
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
I would never want someone to give a star rating to my diary so it’s hard to do so to Renia. This was a sweet look into a teenage girl’s life. Much of it was typical teenage writing but she really was amazingly adult at times. Her poetry was beautiful. The ending, written by her younger sister decades later, was so sad.
Angelique Simonsen
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's nice to hear a different perspective of the holocaust, not just the normal concentration camp stories.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
~~An advanced copy of this book was provided by St. Martin's Press and Goodreads with no promise of a review~~

I believe my review will reiterate the feelings of most of the people who have had the pleasure of reading this book. Renia Spiegel‘s diary takes place over four years in 1939-1942 - which makes it extremely difficult to review. This is someone's immediate recollection of their own life events. I find it to be unnecessary to try to analyze this book from a pure writing perspective.

Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
It was such a privilege to be able to read this Diary. Not only do I thank the amazing people at St Martins Press for granting me access to an early copy but I must also thank Renias Family. Reading and ultimately publishing this Diary was not easy but in doing so I believe they will touch many people.

Renia was a beautiful young girl with hopes and dreams and fears. You get to read all about them in her diary. She was just a young adolescent when the war broke out. She was being raised by her g
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