The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by: John Boyne

Challenges: YA Challenge

Published: 2006

# of pages: 216

Quote: "And were they really so different? All the people in the camp wore the same clothes, those pajamas and their striped cloth caps too; and all the people who wandered through his house . . . wore uniforms of varying quality and decoration and caps and helmets with bright red-and-black armbands and carried guns and always looked terribly stern, as if it was all very important really and no one should think otherwise.
What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?" -Bruno pg. 100

If I had to describe this book in one word it would be: powerful. The descriptions of the Holocaust are vague and the reader doesn't really get involved, and yet, I can't stop thinking about this book. It doesn't have to be detailed and we don't have to connect to the main character to still be affected by the story.

The story takes place in Nazi Germany. Bruno is the main character and the story begins with his family being transferred to "Out-With" so that his dad, a high ranking Nazi officer, can run the camp after receiving a visit from "the Fury." Bruno finds the move a hard adjustment, one that is made even more confusing by the fact that he doesn't understand where he is and what's going on. One day he meets a boy the same age as him and they start up a friendship unlike any Bruno has ever had before. The boys can't play together because they are separated by a huge fence. So instead they talk, and as they talk, they discover how much they have in common...and how much they don't have in common.

It's fascinating how Boyne made this book so innocent when it is discussing a topic that is so NOT innocent. It's eerie to see everything through a child's eyes. Bruno mispronounces and doesn't understand words and so comes up with the terms "Out-With" and "Fury" instead of their proper pronunciations. I knew what "Out-With" was right away, but for some weird reason, it took me awhile to realize what "the Fury" was. However, in both cases I couldn't help but see how Bruno's versions of these words are actually more appropriate than the true pronunciations.

My copy of the novel has an interview with Boyne at the end and I was pleased with what he had to say. He's very aware not only of the injustices of the Holocaust, but of the countless genocides that have taken place since then. The reason why I would recommend this book to ALL people, regardless of age, is because I feel like it still applies to our lives today. And that's exactly what Boyne wrote it the way he did. We can learn lessons from the novel, lessons that are important for adults and children to learn. So although the subject of the Holocaust can be touchy because of the violence, I still think that children should learn about it at a young age to learn about injustice so that they will recognize it if it ever comes up in their lifetime. This book can be a tool in teaching them this lesson because of it's young adult style. However, although the story is simple, it's also one that adults can relate to, no matter how many other books they have read on the subject.

Other Reviews:
Booknotes by Lisa
Bloggin' 'bout Books

Have you reviewed this too? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.


Nymeth said...

It definitely sounds like a very powerful book. And I agree that children should be taught about the Holocaust.

Author Tony Peters said...

I loved the movie and want to read the book so bad! Thank you for the review it was great!

Tony Peters
Kids on a Case: The Case of the Ten Grand Kidnapping

Myckyee said...

I've heard a lot about this book. It's on my TBR pile. I'd read another book by John Boyne which is quite different from this (Mutiny on the Bounty) and I really liked it. It's interesting how this author can write books on such totally different topics and in diffrent genres and make them so good.

Susan said...

I loved this book and the movie. I reviewed it here -

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