There have been many stories told about the Holocaust but I have not come across any story like this one. The book is about Bruno, a son of a Nazi Commander who forms a friendship with an imprisoned Jewish boy, Schmuel. The story starts off with Bruno’s life in Berlin. We are introduced to his family and learn about their lives. I think what made this book work so well is each family member could represent the average German civilian living under the Nazi regime.
My favourite character was Bruno, not because he was the main character but he was a well behaved interesting boy who loves to explore. He is well read and it shows through his narration, for example, his knowledge on explorers and him commenting on learning from their past mistakes. I loved his sensitivity and emotional awareness; although he is young he is able to sense the tense atmosphere of Nazi Germany, even as a Commander’s child and the shameful treatment of the people in the ‘striped pyjamas’.
I thought this book was wonderfully written and enjoyed Boyne’s play of words, for example, Bruno refers the Fuhrer as the Fury. It highlights the innocence of childhood, especially in a time of political unrest. Without giving too much of the plot away, my favourite part of the book was when Bruno meets ‘the Fury’. His description of ‘the Fury’ was quite amusing to read and perhaps very parallel to what most of us would think if we were to have the displeasure of meeting ‘the Fury’ ourselves. I also very much enjoyed reading about Bruno and Schmuel’s friendship, how it blossomed and grew against the numerous odds.
The characters felt more real in the movie adaption but bearing in mind the novel is told through the eyes of an 8-9 year old, the characters were well developed. I wouldn’t mind if John Boyne wrote this story from each family member’s perspective. I think this is a very good story and cannot get enough of it! Reading a story of oppression from a child’s POV gripped me from the beginning and by the end of the book, I cried (a little) and questionedwhy is there so much evil in the world.
‘The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas’ was a real page turner for me as I did not know how it was going to end! There were so many other alternate endings that I thought of when I read the book but I believe Boyne has chosen the best one. The only thing I disliked about the book was that it was too short! Also, I think there should have been an epilogue; I really want to know what came next for Bruno’s family!!
Although this is classified as a book for young adults, the writing is not too simple or ‘babyish’ for older readers to enjoy. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially for readers who appreciate detailed but concise stories, this is a perfect pick.
My rating? 5 stars out of 5 stars!!!