Book Reviews: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Monday, July 26, 2010


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne
★★★☆

Bruno is the 9-year-old son of a Nazi officer during WWII. His father is transferred from Berlin to Auschwitz and he takes his family with him. Bruno misses their home and his friends and can't understand why he can't play with the kids at the local "farm," which he thinks is called "out-with." He meets and befriends Shmuel, a boy who lives on the other side of the fence and wears striped pajamas.

The strength of this story lies in the innocence of the narrator. Just like To Kill a Mockingbird and other similar stories, we see what Bruno experiences through his own naive eyes. At times this is a fault as well as a strength. Bruno occasionally felt intentionally dense or obtuse. His spoiled childhood made him a bit rude, even when Shmuel was flat out telling him something Bruno just ignored it and barreled on with whatever he was talking about.

At times it was hard to believe that Bruno could be completely clueless to what was happening, but then again, he's a child who has lived a sheltered life. There's a chapter near the beginning called, "How Mother took credit for something she hadn't done." It was one of my favorites because it explained a lot about the relationships between the characters and how Bruno could be oblivious to what was going on.

I had a hard time rating this one, because it is well written, but I just couldn't connect with Bruno. As the inevitable tragedy approached I felt less pity than frustration. It was like watching a scary movie and shouting, "Don't go in there!" at the screen. I would recommend this one, but it's not one I'll re-read.

6 comments:

Jessica said...

I agree, it was a good read but I wont want to read it again

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

My father recommended the movie to me, which I have on my Netflix queue -- I didn't realize that this was a book as well. Thanks for the heads up!

Avid Reader said...

I haven't seen the movie yet. I'd love to hear what you think of it.

She said...

I had the same problem with Bruno. It was just too unbelievable to me that he had absolutely no idea what was going on-- nor who Hitler was. : /

Betherann said...

I didn't realize that this was a book. I saw the movie a little while ago, which I found to be decent and enjoyable, though of course sad. What a whammy of an ending...

Jenners said...

I keep saying I want to read this but always put it off. This was the best description of the plot though ... thank you for clarifying it for me.