Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Review

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Author: John Boyne
Average Rating: 4.04/5.0
Personal Rating: 4.0/5.0
Page Count: 224
Finished Reading: June
Published: September 12th, 2006

According to Goodreads

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.

My opinion: 

I'm not going to say that this novel has become one of my all time favorites, but it is a book that brings a bit more awareness into people's lives about the Holocaust. Not a huge amount, but there's some there. I felt like the book started off extremely slow. Literally at page 100 the pace picked up, but I just felt like the writing was too simplistic. 

The simplicity of the writing was actually spot on, because the author created the main character to be nine years old. So of course this nine year old wouldn't be throwing out eight or nine syllable long words. However, by page 50 I felt like I just wanted the book to end so I could be done with the simplistic style of writing. 

I was reading the interview with John Boyne that was at the end of my version of the novel, and he talked about how the book came into existence when an image of two boys separated by a fence popped into his head. He made it his goal from there to portray the naivety of many people during the events of the Holocaust. I feel like people today assume that everybody knew what was actually happening as the Holocaust unfolded. In truth though, many did not know. They knew that their leader, Hitler, was strict and maintained control with fear. They knew that if they publicly gave an act of kindness towards the prisoners they would be severely punished. However, they did NOT know about the gas chambers. They did NOT know about the ovens that many were forced into. They did NOT know about the large ditches that the prisoners were forced to dig, and then be shot one by one into the ditch once they finished. They did NOT know that millions were being starved and forced to work from dawn to dusk. All these horrific actions were kept away from the public.

Today, we have first accounts from the people who experienced these atrocious inhumane acts through interviews and books. We know so much more about the Holocaust than the ones who lived it. I try to read as many articles and books about the Holocaust as I can, because I feel like it's my own way of honoring those who lost their lives. We know most of the truth today, which leads us to tough questions. 

Would you risk your own life to help one of the prisoners? Give them food? Shelter? 

Or would you sneer, spit on them, and say that they deserve everything that they get?

How do you think you would have acted if you had lived during that dark period of time?

Personally, I would like to believe that I would have tried to figure out how to sneak food to them or help them find a way to sneak out. But who knows. Fear causes us to become selfish. 

The fence plays an essential role in the book, and in many of our lives. In the interview, Boyne talks about various "fences" that have erected in our own time. He talked about various wars in Africa and the Middle East, and how war victims were placed in camps to work to death. However, I interpreted that the fence doesn't have to be physical. Maybe you are experiencing some financial struggles or the loss of a beloved family member. Those particular struggles may be temporary, but it's a fence all in the same. Everybody has their fences. Some may have them longer than others, but we all have our fences. I'd like to add this quote from the interview: 

"Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to reach such a fence." (Boyne)

I highly recommend this book, because of its portrayal of the naivety of the people who lived outside of the fences. This book will open your eyes a bit more about the Holocaust resulting in losing your own naivety of that awful period of time. 


  1. I didn't know the movie was adapted from a book!!! Nevertheless, it's a very heart wrenching, beautiful story!! I think I cried a lot when I watched the movie!! This is gonna go to my TBR list (God!! That list is increasing these days!! :D)! Nice Review :)

    1. It's a movie?? I will definitely have to watch it. I know exactly how you feel about the TBR list. For every book I read, I probably add another ten to read. Thank you!

  2. I watched the movie and it broke my heart! The ending was just... ARGH! Memorable for sure. And very thought provoking! It's on Netflix also - or at least it was a few months ago. Anyways I have been wanting to read the book and see which one I liked best. It sounds like it's very well written and very realistic too considering who the narrator is. I love that. And the whole fences aspect you mention sounds really complex and so true, too! Wonderful review!

    1. I can't believe that I didn't know that there was a movie adaptation. I might watch it tonight! The fence aspect hit me really hard when I was reading the interview with the author. I literally put the book down, and just sat there trying to process and relate that statement to the real world. Thank you!