This weekly feature is hosted by Renee, (Its Book Talk). Throwback Thursday offers a way to share some of our old favorites as well as sharing books that we are finally getting around to reading that were published over a year ago.
My pick for today is actually my book club’s read for this month.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
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.
I just finished reading The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne an hour ago and I am still feeling dazed. The story begins when nine year old Bruno receives news that his family is moving from their big house in Berlin to a new home in a place he later calls ‘Out-With’. Like any other nine year old, Bruno is worried about the move because he doesn’t want to leave his three best friends behind. Getting to the new house and realizing that there are no neighbors hence no new friends, Bruno is more convinced that he won’t like his new home. This changed when he meets the boy in stripped pajamas who lives on the other side of the fence.
This story is narrated through Bruno’s POV and so we get to see everything through his eyes. In his mind, things are all muddled up. Throughout the book, I knew that the boy that Bruno was seeing was a Jew in a concentration camp and Bruno’s father was a Nazi commandant. However, I got lost in Bruno’s world a couple times and things took time to click. For instance, he referred to his home as ‘Out-With’. Halfway through the book is when it clicked that all along, he had been saying, Auschwitz. Seeing the atrocities of the Nazi regime through a boy’s eyes gave me a fresh, new perspective. I know that the book has been criticized for being historically inaccurate but as a work of fiction, I think the author created a thought-provoking narrative that in my case made me think about the different ways that kids were affected by the holocaust. The author brings readers down to Bruno’s level and enables us to see the world as he saw it. It was interesting to witness the child’s innocence.
This book is fairly short at 190 pages. I was so engrossed in Bruno’s narration that I got through the book in just a seating. The narrations are difficult to read about and my heart was melted by the friendship between Bruno and the boy in stripped pajama, Shmuel. I loved reading about this friendship and how it grew amidst all the hatred that was going on.
I have to mention the ending. I never saw it coming until it was happening. It left with a headache. I don’t think any other book has ever given me a headache. I was chocking up, throat burning, struggling not to cry because I was reading the book in a restaurant. I couldn’t even speak for a while. Interestingly, this is exactly what happened when I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I got to the end while in a bus and had to keep the tears from falling. I need to stop reading these books in public. I can’t wait to watch The Boy in Striped Pajamas movie.
Do I recommend this book? I definitely do! Let me warn you though, it will make you cry so keep the tissues close and don’t go reading the book in public unless you don’t mind staring strangers.