I recently received a book entitled Annexed, by Sharon Dogar, for review. There are a lot of things I liked about this novel, but at the top of the list is the point of view it’s told from. Annexed is basically a retelling of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, but from the perspective of Peter van Pels, a fellow occupant of the annex. And even though this is definitely Peter’s story, Dogar somehow manages to tell it while remaining true to the spirit of Anne’s diary.
I think this point of view works so well precisely because it’s a different take on events we’re used to viewing through someone else’s perspective. Most people who pick up Dogar’s novel will also have read Anne’s diary, and a lot of the book’s interest lies in comparing the well-known perspective with the less common one. In fact, that’s one of the things I like most about historical fiction in general – being able to read multiple books that cover similar subjects and time periods, yet feature drastically different points of view, some more familiar than others.
So, the next time you come across an event you’d like to write a novel about, consider telling the story from a point of view that isn’t immediately obvious to you or your readers. After all, the way we perceive history depends, at least in part, on who’s telling the story. And as far as I’m concerned, the more perspectives we can bring to a given time in history, the more complete a picture of it we can paint.
Do you especially enjoy reading novels that cover the same subject from different perspectives? Can you recommend any books that do a particularly good job of telling a story from a rarely considered point of view?
Melissa Luttman is Associate Editor for Young Adult History/Historical Fiction at Wonders & Marvels.