Last night I finished the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, and although I didn’t ADORE it, I did enjoy it & have been meaning to write more in-depth reviews of the books I read on my blog. So here we go (no spoilers, I promise!)
The book takes place in the 1940’s in Nazi Germany. It’s told from the perspective of 9 year old Bruno, a young German boy who lives with his older sister, his mother, and his father. When his father gets a promotion in the Nazi army, they are forced to move and end up in a home that overlooks a concentration camp.
There, Bruno goes exploring along the fence-line of the camp because he doesn’t understand why there is this dividing line between his home and all the people on the other side. He meets a Jewish boy who is in the camp. They develop a friendship, but both of them don’t understand what’s going on. They simply know that they aren’t allowed to talk to one another, and so they keep their friendship a secret.
The book is very short- about 200 pages- and the author sticks with the fact that Bruno is incredibly naive about the whole situation. He doesn’t understand that his father is not a good man & he doesn’t see the bad things that are happening just outside his window. He is, however, very happy to have a new friend, and they learn a lot about each other over the course of one year.
Overall, I definitely liked the book. I’m really interested in all novels and biographies that have to do with this time period because they’re all told from different perspectives, which really brings it together. I thought that there were a few plot points that could have been further developed, but I thought it was a really fascinating way to portray war. The author basically compares extreme evil with extreme innocence (the little boy) and that in itself makes the story really beautiful.
If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about Germany in the 40’s I recommend it as a read, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have any background information on that time period. There were a few things that left me confused because they were strictly from the perspective of little Bruno, who was confused himself. If I wasn’t able to piece it all together with what I already know, I would have probably finished the book a little bit lost.
I’m absolutely going to be checking out the movie though, isn’t that movie cover heartbreaking?
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5