Your Best Friend, Anne
In Je beste vriendin Anne, Jacqueline van Maarsen writes about how she became friends with her classmate Anne at the Joods Lyceum in October 1941. She had no idea why Anne liked her. ‘She talks nineteen to the dozen and I don’t say much.’ But a few days later, when Anne declared that she was her best friend, Jacqueline had to agree.
Van Maarsen previously described her memories of her childhood for adults in Ik heet Anne, zei ze, Anne Frank, casting a new light on the famous diarist. Now children can also read about her story, in this concise account of an intense friendship that ended abruptly when the Frank family went into hiding in July 1942.
Van Maarsen gives a very direct description of her childhood and paints a touching picture of two young Jewish girls, doing their homework together, playing Monopoly and writing in each other’s friendship books. On her thirteenth birthday, Anne received the famous red-checked diary from her parents. ‘I’m going to write about you, too,’ she told Jacqueline.
In her diary, she calls her friend Jopie, after their literary heroine Joop ter Heul. Many years later, Anne’s father Otto Frank asked Van Maarsen to write the foreword to the first edition of Het Achterhuis, the Dutch title of the diary. Van Maarsen declined, as she had no idea what she could add to Anne’s diary and wondered if anyone still wanted to read about the war. But perhaps to please Otto Frank, she wrote in a letter to him: ‘Maybe Anne’s book might even become famous!’