Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 216
Edition: Hardcover

"The story of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the jacket, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about" Intrigued by the above blurb on the book cover, I picked this book off the library shelf knowing I was in for an interesting read. If you prefer not to know what the book is all about, I recommend you skip this review altogether.
Set in the WWII and Holocaust times during the early 1940s in Nazi Germany, the story is narrated in an unusual perspective through the eyes of a naive 9-year-old German boy Bruno. Bruno comes home from school one day to find all his belongings stowed away in boxes and his family preparing to move. Followed by a dinner with the "Fury", Bruno's dad, a commandant in German army, had to leave Berlin to take up his new job. Reluctant to move from the five-story beautiful home in Berlin to this outlandish place called "Out-With" (Auschwitz) in Poland, Bruno keeps badgering his father into staying at Berlin. All his attempts proved futile and he is left with no choice but to leave. He was dismayed to find "Out-With" in a desolate landscape absolutely in the middle of nowhere. Glancing out the window, past the beautiful garden, Bruno saw a huge wire fence that ran along the length of the house and even further along, as far as his eyes could see. He gets an eerie feeling looking at the hoards of older, younger men and boys all clothed in striped pajamas, shirt and a cap on the other side of the fence. Feeling dismayed, trapped and lonely in the new house, one day Bruno sets out on an exploration trip and to his delightful surprise meets a young boy clothed in striped pajamas sitting on the other side of the fence. Bruno sneaks out leftover cakes and food from the house for his new friend and they meet at the fence every day. He finds his friend horribly skinny with purple bruises on his body and utterly despondent at all times, yet Bruno is oblivious to what's happening around him. When the time comes for Bruno to leave Out-With, he sets out on one final adventure with his friend and the events that follow will leave you with absolute horror and dismay. Despite the fact that I have read other books about Holocaust and the Great War, this was an unusual read as the story is told from the perspective of a young German boy as opposed to a Jewish victim. No matter how many books I read about Holocaust, its always appalling to think of the despicable horrors of those hideous dark times in the history of mankind. One of the Best Reads of 2007!
Also Recommended: The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
My Rating: 4.5/5


Becky said...

I reviewed this book for my site as well. I think the blurb on the jacket is very effective in getting people interested in reading this book. I have such mixed feelings about this book. I feel it is either the best-worst book I've ever read or the worst-best book I've ever read. It is very haunting. Very. It stays with you. In some ways that is proof that it is well-written. But in many ways it's just too disturbing for me to want it to stay with me. (If that makes any sense at all.) But I do enjoy reading about the Holocaust. One of my favorite titles is The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender. Have you read that one?

Happy Reader said...

@Becky - Like you mentioned, I was so intrigued by the blurb on the jacket that I knew I had to read it! It was indeed a heartwrenching story that will stay with me for a long time. I just looked up Amazon for 'The Cage'. I think I should read this. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!