Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas - John Boyne

This novel is about a nine year old boy named Bruno whose father is a Commander with the Nazi's. The father is sent to work in Auschwitz and the family goes along to - to live in the house beside. Bruno doesn't really know what his father does or really about anything that is going on around him. All he really knows is that his friends are no longer here and he cannot go exploring like before. That is until one day he finds a boy his age wearing striped pajamas living behind the fence. His name is Shmuel. And then the book just gets sad.

This is a short novel. A little over 200 pages, I read it in 3 sittings. Written from the point of view of a German child this story is heartbreaking. I had to sit back and think when I finished the last page because it made me feel so utterly sad. It made you feel for everyone in Auschwitz and especially for these 2 little boys who just wanted to be friends above everything else. The only problem I have with this book is how little Bruno is aware of what is going on around him. I don't know if it was typically for boys to be not told anything about Hitler or the Nazis - especially if the father was so important. Bruno seems a quite selfish and silly little boy - but if the author did that on purpose to show how he was just a boy being a boy unaware of the horror around him then it did work.

I think that this should be read in elementary schools and high schools. It brings the story of the holocaust from a different viewpoint and also looks at friendship between two little boys who live on different sides of the fence. If this book doesn't break your heart I don't know what will.

Rating - 4


Unknown said...

I think that most books about WWII, especially the concentration camps are really very sad and heartbreaking. From what i learned about the Holocaust and the camps I can say that it is entirely possible that this boy was kept in ignorance, millions of regular, German citizens were. That was one of the things what kept the whole operation going,as Nietzsche once said: "Ignorance is Power" and Hitler wholeheartedly believed it.

Becky said...

Up until recently I hadn't really read much about World War II in the perspective of the German people. However I just finished reading a book titled, "Abandoned and Forgotten," by Evelyne Tannehill which is a true life story seen through a little girl's eyes (the author). Much has been written abut WWII, especially the Holocaust, but there is not much literature about what a large segment of the German civilian population went through during that terrible war – those who wanted no part of Hitler’s regime, but who were trapped in a situation from which there was no escape. You either obeyed orders or you were shot for disobedience or treason. The author's father was incarceration for merely speaking out against Hitler’s regime. I think people were brainwashed and bullied into it. I haven't yet read "The Boy In The Striped Pajamas," but have been wanting to read it for quite sometime.