Throughout the ages, teenagers have almost universally had one thing in common: a certain unhappiness with their parents. But imagine living with your parents--and five other people--in a space that's been mostly closed off from the world, with bombs exploding nearby and airplanes flying overhead while a war rages on and the government denies you the right to ride your bicycle, hold certain jobs, or even see movies in the theater. If it seems like an exaggeration to the average teenager today, one way to bring home the realities of the world--and help them see that maybe their own situations aren't so bad--is to share this story with them.
Some of you may have guessed already, but I'm talking about The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank's account of her time living in the Secret Annex, a hidden apartment in Amsterdam, during World War II. Obviously this is geared more toward a young female audience, but I think that young men can learn lessons from it, as well, and that it is an important work, if not the most uplifting thing you'll ever read.
The good news is that, although it may bring you down, Anne Frank's story is very important and will stick with you throughout your life. It teaches us that no one is perfect, that it is necessary to keep your faith (in whatever--God, humanity, yourself) through the darkest of days, and that we are never alone in our struggles. Above all, it teaches us that although we may all be different, we all require a little bit of understanding and a little bit of love. If that's not a great lesson to learn during the holidays, I don't know what is.
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Image via Barnes and Noble.