Throwback Thursday: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

throwbackthursday

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-pyjamas-37-IRELANDThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

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.

Review

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.

striped pajamas movie

35 Comments

    1. I remember you had mentioned about staying away from WWWII stories. This is a really heartbreaking book though. If you avoid war stories because of the sad themes then I am not sure that this one is for you. Its unique especially due to the narrator but its still quite an emotional read.

    1. Schmool is an interesting name.Did you change the name after birth? I really like Schmuel in the story that I felt really sad due to the situation that he was in. I have now watched the movie. Its good, different from the book though.

  1. Fabulous review.I read this book through a book club, too, as it’s not something I ever would have chosen myself – and that would have been a great loss. Years on, it still haunts me and makes me well up when I think of it. It is the perfect illustration of the power of innocence and understatement in writing x

    1. I get what you mean. I have had this book on my shelf for quite a while but my book-club is what made me decide to read it. I am certain that it will haunt me for quite a while. The ending was so powerful despite being very heartbreaking.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I have now watched the movie. Its very different from the book. Some of the main scenes were changed but it was good too though in my opinion, I think the book was better 🙂

  2. I agree, I never saw the ending coming, either (though it made a lot of sense). I should pick this up again, it’s been a long time.

  3. Such a sad book…the movie was too dramatic, in my opinion, they changed the ending and it’s more “cinematic” and cliché. The book was perfect!

    1. I agree with you. I watched the movie this past weekend. The ending and interactions between the two boys was so different. The book ending was more moving than the movie’s. Unlike Book Thief, the movie didn’t do justice to the book.

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