Monday, July 4, 2011

Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

There seems to be a plethora of Holocaust stories out there: some fictional, some non-fictional; The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of the former, and it stands out and above most of them.

The story focuses on Bruno, a nine year old boy whose father is the commandant of a concentration camp in World War II Poland. Bruno has been uprooted from his rather posh Berlin home, and at first feels a grave injustice has been done to him as he adjusts to life in his new home. Resentment turns to boredom and then to curiosity as Bruno begins to explore the grounds around his house. While walking near the fence that separates the grounds of his home from the camp, he finds and befriends Shmuel, a young Jewish boy and prisoner in the camp.

Bruno is an intelligent, inquisitive boy though he has no understanding of what occurs on the other side of the fence. His relationship with Shmuel is genuine, touching, and honest; and even though Shmuel bears witness to the horrific events of the camp, his inability or unwillingness to share these terrors with Bruno help to maintain and develop an childlike innocence to their friendship.

The book is written with a simple, straightforward style as if it were a children's story, though the story itself wouldn't be appropriate for very young children. Bruno's voice rings true throughout the book and lends itself well to the poignancy of this story. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a powerful, haunting story of innocence, friendship, and horror. From Dave Fickling Books and available from your local, independent bookstore. (Shop local and makes a difference!)

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic review! I just read this book this left me breathless..the straightforward writing style of it's author sends you off into a time travel you can't help but be moved by! You walk away from this story with a whole new perspective on the terrible time in our history. Bruno's innocence of the atrocities happening just beyond the fence can't help but draw you in with him and Schmuel asking for nothing but to have a friend outside of the confines he finds himself they reach out to each other is a lesson for us all!