The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Published by David Fickling Books on September 12, 2006
Genres: Young Adult
Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
Last weekend I watched Fallen Idol. The premise was a young boy who admires his family’s butler, who tells exotic stories about Africa. Until one night, he witnesses (or thinks he does) the butler murdering his wife because the butler always did it. The little snot spreads rumors of the supposed killing having the police believing in these falsehoods. By the end of the film, I want to strangle the little brat.
This is how I felt about Bruno. With the understanding of the time frame, I found Bruno to be an arrogant ass, a dehumanized, self-centered annoyance who I wanted to smash like a bug. His complete ignorance to what was going on, on the other side of the fence I found unrealistic considering his father’s position and closeness to the Fuhrer. His new found friend Shmuel slowly divulges his life before he was taken to the concentration camp and his present living conditions with Bruno only yawning and changing the subject to boast that his home in Berlin has five stories. Personally, I have no idea why Shmuel came back to visit with Bruno day after day. I realize I sound severe and Bruno was only nine, I just wish these qualities would have been toned down, making him a more likable kid.
For a twenty-something the book felt immature and would much have preferred The Diary of Anne Frank or Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. For a pre-teen who is educated on the subject of the Holocaust I think this book is perfect. As the book is told from a one-year-old’s point of view everything is a little screwed but with enough facts for the reader to understand the truth of the matter. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was a clever book, I was just fifteen years too late.