Monday, April 27, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Genre: YA
Published: 2006
Pages: 216
Book Source: Own purchase
Lines may divide us, but hope will unite us ...
Nine-year-old Bruno knows nothing of the Final Solution and the Holocaust. He is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country. All he knows is that he has been moved from a comfortable home in Berlin to a house in a desolate area where there is nothing to do and no one to play with. Until he meets Shmuel, a boy who lives a strange parallel existence on the other side of the adjoining wire fence and who, like the other people there, wears a uniform of striped pyjamas. Bruno's friendship with Shmuel will take him from innocence to revelation. And in exploring what he is unwittingly a part of, he will inevitably become subsumed by the terrible process. - from book jacket

This novel has been categorised as young adult but I personally would classify it as Ageless.
I did read a few reviews (some of them not complimentary) before buying this book & I have to say I'm glad I went with my heart on this one.

It may seem inconceivable that a 9 year old German boy (his father is the Commandant of Auschwitz) can be so naive as to be utterly ignorant of Hitler & his reign of terror but I found it surprisingly easy to suspend belief & become emotionally caught up in this tale.

You cannot talk at length about this book, without giving away vital information & altering a reader's experience so I will just say this is not a book you read for pleasure. Read this simple but at the same time, complex novel for its ability to move you; for the poignancy to touch you.

The powerful ending of this story affected me deeply, I think I actually gasped in disbelief. This will not be a book I forget in a hurry ~ I believe it is one of those reading experiences that enriches you in some profound way.


  1. This sounds like a beautiful story. You can't help but think that perhaps his parents tried hard to protect him from what was going on around him, maybe that is why he really had no idea. I really do want to read this now.

  2. Glad you liked it. This is on my list to read.

    Actually I can believe a 9 year old would be oblivious to what is going on, or at least not comprehend. His parents were probably super protective. Plus the book is set in a time before tv and when kids never questioned what an adult told them.

    Have you seen the movie?

  3. I've seen mixed reviews on this book too but I'd still like to read it. I've taken it out from the library a few times but never got around to reading it. Your review makes me want to sit down with it again.

  4. Definitely a book to read soon. Thanks.

  5. I think I would really enjoy this book. Back in the days of no TV or internet, people were naive. My parents were young during the war in Austria and Germany and can attest to the propaganda that they were fed... I can imagine this book would be very moving - much like Schindler's List.

  6. I hadn't even heard of this book until my daughter showed me the movie trailer ... it took my breath away! Apparently, many schools use this book as part of their grade 5/6 curriculum. I very much want to read the book and see the movie.

    Good to know that it is a read that stirs emotion , thanks for the review.

  7. I've been wanting to read this book since seeing the movie and crying my eyes out. I hope it's okay that I linked to your review on War Through the Generations.



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