Man’s Search For Mean­ing: Young Adult Edition

Vik­tor E. Frankl
  • Review
By – September 14, 2017

Man’s Search for Mean­ing: Young Adult Edi­tion by Vik­tor E. Fran­kl | Jew­ish Book Coun­cil

Man’s Search For Mean­ing, writ­ten by psy­chi­a­trist Vik­tor E. Fran­kl, is a clas­sic Holo­caust mem­oir and trea­tise which chron­i­cles the author’s expe­ri­ence in con­cen­tra­tion camps, as well as the expe­ri­ences of the patients he treat­ed after the war. This revised edi­tion for young adults is meant to intro­duce young peo­ple to Frankl’s work and con­cepts in a man­ner appro­pri­ate for their age group and devel­op­men­tal level. 

In his work, Fran­kl describes the men­tal stages inmates go through. His major the­sis cen­ters around the idea that those who sur­vive a trau­mat­ic expe­ri­ence (such as being an inmate at a con­cen­tra­tion camp) feel they have a task they need to complete.

The book includes a fore­word by not­ed young adult author John Boyne, and an after­word by William J. Winslade in which he dis­cuss­es Frankl’s life and his life­time work known as logother­a­py, a sys­tem of thought based on a search for mean­ing in life after trau­mat­ic expe­ri­ences. The book also includes select­ed writ­ings by Fran­kl, a glos­sary, a chronol­o­gy of Frankl’s life, and oth­er mate­r­i­al about the Holocaust.

This book, while fas­ci­nat­ing for those who are inter­est­ed in the sub­ject mat­ter, may not hold the inter­est of the gen­er­al young adult read­er. How­ev­er, those ages 14 and up who have a bent for phi­los­o­phy, psy­chol­o­gy and/​or the Holo­caust will find much to think about and dis­cuss with par­ents, teach­ers and group lead­ers. The Holo­caust his­to­ry is well han­dled and described and presents an excel­lent his­tor­i­cal pic­ture with­out being undu­ly lurid or over­ly fright­en­ing. This book would be valu­able in a num­ber of edu­ca­tion­al set­tings and is also rec­om­mend­ed for the perusal of teach­ers and administrators. 

Marge Kaplan is a retired Eng­lish as a Sec­ond Lan­guage teacher. She is a con­sul­tant for the children’s lit­er­a­ture group for the Roseville, MN school sys­tem and is a sto­ry­teller of Jew­ish tales.

Discussion Questions