My poor brother has been asking me to read this book for months now (he’s thirteen). I’m always reluctant to borrow books from people because I know my turnaround will never be as quick as if I loan out a book. There’s so many I’ve obligated myself to read for challenges or for authors/publishers, not to mention the giant shelf of TBR books. I promised him I’d read BSP for the readathon and I’m so glad I did. When I texted him that I had finished the book he texted me back “it’s about time.” Yup, it sure is.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas begins with nine year old Bruno and his family who live in a nice big five story home in Berlin. Bruno’s father is a very important person, though, and has been asked by the Fury (Hitler) to take post at a strange camp in a far away place called Out-With (Auschwitz). Bruno is upset because the house is much smaller and his sister Gretel (a Hopeless Case) refuses to play with him. As Bruno begins to explore the new home, he discovers that there is a giant camp across the yard with lots of men and boys all wearing the same striped pyjamas. In his exploration, he meets a boy sitting by the fence of the camp whom Bruno befriends.
What I loved about The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is the simplicity and innocence. Bruno doesn’t understand why his parents have moved, he doesn’t understand the camp beyond his home’s yard, and he doesn’t understand why his friend can’t come across the fence to play or why Bruno can’t go to the other side of the fence. There is something so sweet about Bruno’s innocence and refusal to judge those who are a little different from him. I also have a tough time believing, though, that the son of a Commandant who is overseeing one of the largest concentration camps in the world doesn’t know what a Jew is and whether he is a Jew or not. That aside, Bruno’s innocence came across as genuine.
“What exactly was the difference? [Bruno] wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore uniforms” (100).
This is a short book that can be read within a couple of hours, and while I do recommend it, it isn’t as powerful as some of the other books I’ve read about the Holocaust or World War II. Could this partly be because it was written for young adults? I don’t know–I’ve read some pretty powerful young adult books (The Book Thief is one I highly recommend). I guess the unbelievablity of the story continued to tug away at me. I was shocked by the ending of the book, and even though it’s not hard to guess this book would not have a happy ending, it left my heart hollow.
Have you read this book or seen the movie? How did you feel about it?
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