Saturday, 13 August 2011

Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Hardcover, 218 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by David Fickling Books

Original title:  The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Setting: Germany, 1943
Literary awards:  Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader's Choice Award for Intermediate (2009), Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award for John Murray Show Listeners' Choice Award (2007)
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 from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see 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 to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

Terri's Review

I borrowed this book from my niece Sierra ( after discussing my interest in novels about the holocaust with her.  I will start by saying that this book falls under the young adult genre and is written for a younger audience than myself.  That being said,  I found that this book had many subtle messages within that may not be clear to a younger reader or one that is not educated on the holocaust and Auschwitz in particular.  In my view, the fact that this was written through the eyes of an innocent and naive nine year old boy who was ignorant to what was occurring behind the fence was genius as it symbolized the greater ignorance of a nation during this tumultuous time.  At one point the boy asks the question to himself of who decides who gets to wear the striped pajama's and who wears the uniform.  This is a question that can spark much debate still today.  This is just one example of why I enjoyed this book I found that it really made me think and would make a great readers club selection (and most likely has been).  Lastly, without discussing the outcome, I feel that how the author chose to close this story was exactly how it should have been.  Ultimately, I would recommend this book to the young adult audience however add that I also think that it is a great tool to have adults read it as well in order to initiate conversation to bridge the generational gap (and maybe explain some facts to those less knowledgeable on the subject) on this important and tragic part of our world history.

 Terri's Rating

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