Beth Jacobs’ Paper Sky is a powerful addition to the works of those artists and writers from around the world, who, more than half a century later, continue to be inspired by Anne Frank’s diaries. Haunted by the Gestapo’s brutal scattering of Anne’s precious pages and the forced cessation of Anne’s voice after the family’s arrest and deportation, Jacobs re-creates Anne’s voice as she continues to confide in her beloved Kitty. With stubs of pencils on scraps of paper, Anne records, with clarity and compassion, what she sees and experiences in the unimaginable circumstances of the camps. In this important addition, Jacobs allows Anne the voice that the Nazis cut off while she was still living; here, so long as Anne lives, she speaks.
― Evelyn Torton Beck, Ph.D. Professor Emerita, Women’s Studies and Jewish Studies, University of Maryland
I began reading The Paper Sky with trepidation. How could anyone capture the mental and emotional turmoil of someone facing daily life in a concentration camp, especially Anne Frank – the young girl the world has come to love for her courage, her honesty, and her hope? This author felt a calling- through extensive research she was able to imagine Anne Frank’s life in the camps up to her death through continuing Anne’s diary. She felt it was important to reveal the whole truth of what happened, not only to Anne, but to the thousands of children who were forcibly taken to the camps. We need to hear this…to imagine with her and open our minds and hearts to the evil that human beings are capable of…and the courage of spirit that even such a young girl is capable of…Our commitment is ‘to never forget’ and yet it is easy to distance from this reality and not really feel it. This book is a significant contribution to the Holocaust literature and a must read.
― Doralee Grindler Katonah, Psy.D, M.Div. is adjunct faculty at Sofia University/The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA. She is a clinical psychologist who offers spiritually integrated psychotherapy. She has taught internationally and has published in the area of somatic psychology. Doralee is a practitioner of Zen Buddhism for many years.
Highly imaginative, sensitive, and thoughtful book from a talented writer.
― Paul C. Cooper “Choshi” (New York, N.Y.)
There is something so very intimate about reading someone’s diary, yet millions of us have in fact read Anne Frank’s diary. Now Beth Jacobs, in her newly released book Paper Sky, reaches even deeper into that intimacy of Anne’s heart by following her after the August 4, 1944 arrest of the small group living in that secret Amsterdam annex.
Jacobs’ exhaustive research is apparent with every entry in this continuing diary as she follows Anne and her family for nearly 8 months, until Anne’s death at the German Bergen-Belsen camps.
On July 15, 1944, Anne wrote, “I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty, too, shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”
However, that peace and tranquility was not the case for Anne and her family. In Paper Sky, Jacobs reveals her acute awareness of Anne’s every -often times- conflicting human emotions, of every holocaust scene, that somehow we don’t want to see. We feel our own senses ignited by the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the camps. The lice quickly multiple, leaving us scratching and checking to make sure there is nothing on our own arms or legs.
We experience with Anne a sense of freedom following their arrest that quickly turns to her longing for that small attic. We are led to understand the constant game of ‘musical chairs’ expertly played to stay out of harm’s way, off the trains and to remain upright during roll calls. We also understand Anne’s gentle awareness of the sudden smallness of her loving father Pim, as he struggles to protect his family.
I find one of the most interesting parts of Paper Sky is Anne’s relationship to her beloved Kitty. A relationship that changes over the months from Kitty being the one she shares her innermost thoughts with, to a Kitty that comforts and protects her, to Anne’s need to protect and comfort Kitty. Kitty becomes the source of Anne’s sanity. Ultimately, without even the tiniest scrape of paper to write on, Anne and Kitty become one, watching the world slip away.
You will walk away from reading this book, both longing to taste freedom and the final ending of this story, and the longing to keep that diary, scattered on the annex floor so long ago, safely locked away following Anne’s last entry.
― Rev. Tricia L. Teater, MPA, Director and Head Priest, Udumbara Zen Center, Evanston, Il.