09 February 2010
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Boyne, John. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. New York: David Fickling Books, 2006.
"If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. (Thought this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence. Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter such a fence."
I saw the movie based on this book maybe a year ago. Although I thought it was a good movie, I wasn't that excited to dive into the story in book form. However, as is usually the case, I found the book to be better than the movie.
This book follows the story of a German boy named Bruno whose family has to move after his father's promotion. The "Fury" promotes Bruno's father to commandant and places him in charge of a place Bruno calls "Out With." While living in his house on the outskirts of "Out With," Bruno goes exploring and encounters a boy who lives on the other side of the fence. Shmuel is Bruno's age, and Bruno is very glad to have found a friend, albeit a friend who lives a very different life than Bruno.
I found it intriguing to view the Holocaust and World War 2 through the eyes of a small boy. He doesn't understand what is going on around him; his concerns are only that he misses his friends and wants someone to play with. He sees himself as very similar to Shmuel: they were both forced away from their homes and everything familiar and both want desperately to return to what was normal.
I do not recommend this book to young children; however, the difficult subject matter was well handled, and it may end up on my list of "books a person must read to call himself or herself a human being."