When I was nine, there was nothing I loved to read more than those Dear America books for kids. My adventure-loving mind gobbled up every bit of the supposed diaries of real girls throughout history. A compulsive diary writer even then, I loved the thought of reading actual girl’s diaries. What a fascinating thought that their journals had been preserved so long.
Your life is nothing but a lie, Julie
One day, I picked up a book “written by a little Jewish girl during the Holocaust.” At the time I was very interested in the authors name printed on the inside cover of a book. That was mostly because I dreamt of someday seeing my own name printed on the inside of my own novel. After I read the name, I wished that I had never let my eyes drift past the pages of the book. The book was not written by a real little girl. The name was totally different than the name of the star of the book. For a moment I sat in shock. After rereading it, I had a sudden vision of a lying, sniveling insect of an old lady who pretended to be a little girl all for money. How could anyone stoop so low? I couldn’t even fathom it. I screamed and hurled down that grimy book.
Later that evening I told my mother about my horrific discovery, hoping that somehow I’d been mistaken. Perhaps she would assure me that the book really was written by a girl in history, and simply edited by an old lady. Instead, she confirmed my fears. Having been obsessed with the books, I felt that my entire life was a fallacy. The next few nights I couldn’t sleep. Instead I plotted revenge against that insect; I may have been small but I planned to make that con artist pay.
The realization that I was reading a lie denied every hope I had. I’d imagined my own diary becoming an epic novel which girls of the future would read. That dream gave me energy and a reason to write.When I found out my favorite true stories were fiction, my faith in myself was decimated.
Eventually my rage subsided and was replaced by a faint sickness in the pit of my stomach which was released whenever I was reminded of how I'd been fooled.
Sure, these books may be educational. They, when seen for their true selves, are a fun way of taking a peek into history. Yet I don’t think I can ever come to terms with those feelings of being tricked. I can’t see myself ever allowing a child to believe Dear America books were really a little girl’s diary.
So now you know why last week I was so upset at seeing my little sister reading a Dear America book about a little Jewish girl in the Holocaust.