Book review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne *****

Book review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne *****

Nine year-old Bruno knows nothing of the Final Solution or the Holocaust. He is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country.
All he knows is that he has been moved from a comfortable home in Berlin to a house in a desolate area where there is nothing to do and no one to play with. Until he meets Shmuel, a boy who lives a strange parallel existence on the other side of the adjoining wire fence and who, like the other people there, wears a uniform of striped pyjamas.
Bruno’s friendship with Shmuel will take him from innocence to revelation. And in exploring what he is unwittingly a part of, he will inevitably become subsumed by the terrible process.

I DEVOURED this book. I bought it when I was in London with my sister (over a year ago) and read it on the Eurostar/train journey home. I finished it exactly as the car (my husband picked us up at the train station) pulled up at our house. This story broke my heart. I mean it, I ended up crying in the car. (My husband was thrilled, he hadn’t seen me for three days and I was sobbing over a book)

As the description says, this is the story of a nine year-old boy, Bruno, who had to move from Berlin to the middle of nowhere. He has to leave his friends behind and go to a place where there is nobody to play with. As you can imagine, it’s hell for a little boy.

What he doesn’t know and what he can’t understand, since he is little and naive, is that hell is actually just across the fence that separates the family from a different kind of place. But Bruno is just jealous of those people because they don’t have to study, they have friends and they can wear their pyjamas all day long.

Then he meets this other little boy, Shmuel, who lives on the other side of the fence. Shmuel tells you what’s happening without actually saying it. He gets thinner every time him and Bruno meet and then suddenly his father has gone missing.
Bruno, on the other hand, is oblivious to what Shmuel is going through. One day he decides to bring the other boy some chocolate, but he gets hungry on the walk to the fence and eats pretty much all of it. Eventually he decides that he can’t possibly give Shmuel the tiny piece that’s left so he eats that as well. Imagine how happy the starving boy would have been with only a tiny piece of chocolate.

You, as a grown up, have the historical knowledge to understand what’s going on and the way John Boyne built this story took my breath away. You know that The Fury, as Bruno calls him, is The Fuhrer, Hitler. I can’t remember how he said the name for the place but you immediately recognise it. You know what’s going to happen and you see this little boy, blind to the circumstances, getting mixed up into the stuff of nightmares.

As I said, it’s been over a year since I read this book and I remember how it made me feel a.k.a it destroyed me.. It really stayed with me. A couple of weeks after finishing the book, I watched the movie with the husband and I cried.. the whole time..

If you haven’t read the book, go and pick it up. It’s a really small book and it reads super fast.
If you don’t feel like reading it, then watch the movie.
You really want to get to know this story!

But prepare for tears..



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