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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Publisher: Published September 12th 2006 by David Fickling Books (first published January 5th 2006)
ISBN: 9780385751063
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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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 stra 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.

30 review for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brandy

    I hardly know where to begin bashing this book. Do I start with the 9-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister, who read about 6 and 8, respectively? The imperial measurements (miles, feet) despite the German setting? The German boy, raised in Berlin, who thinks that Der Führer is "The Fury" and Auschwitz is "Out-With," despite being corrected several times and seeing it written down? The other English-language idioms and mis-hearings, despite our being told that he speaks only German? And that h I hardly know where to begin bashing this book. Do I start with the 9-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister, who read about 6 and 8, respectively? The imperial measurements (miles, feet) despite the German setting? The German boy, raised in Berlin, who thinks that Der Führer is "The Fury" and Auschwitz is "Out-With," despite being corrected several times and seeing it written down? The other English-language idioms and mis-hearings, despite our being told that he speaks only German? And that he believes that "Heil Hitler!" is a fancy word for hello, because he understands neither "Heil" nor "Hitler"? So maybe these are fussy issues, and I shouldn't trash the book on these minor linguistic flaws. Instead, I can start with the plot holes big enough to drive a truck through: that Bruno, whose father is a high-ranking official in "The Fury"'s regime, doesn't know what a Jew is, or that he's living next door to a concentration camp. Or that the people wearing the "striped pajamas" are being killed, and THAT's why they don't get up after the soldiers stand close to them and there are sounds "like gunshots." Or that there's a section of fence that is (a) unpatrolled and (b) can be lifted from the ground high enough to pass food and, eventually, a small boy through, AND that nobody would try to get OUT through this hole. Or that Bruno's friend Shmuel, a frail 9-year-old boy, would survive over a year in a Nazi camp. Or even the author's refusal to ever use the word "Auschwitz," in an effort to "make this book about any camp, to add a universality to Bruno's experience." That last is from an interview with the author that appears at the end of the audio version. I can't speak to most of what he said, because it was a lot of "here are all the places that are hyping my book," but the worst part of it, to me, was where he was addressing criticisms: "there are people who complain that Bruno is too innocent, too naive, and they are trivializing the message of this book." Um, no. I'm not trivializing the message; I'm objecting to his trivializing of the Holocaust. I find his treatment of the Holocaust to be superficial, misleading, and even offensive. As an audio recording, I'm pretty neutral. The narrator did the best he could with the material and there was some differentiation between the characters' voices, but the music that was added... some chapters ended with appropriately-somber music. Other chapters had no music at all. Sometimes the music appeared in the middle of a chapter. Two other incidental notes: first, normally you can't say anything negative about a Holocaust-themed book without being an asshole, because the books are so tied in with the Holocaust itself. In this case, though, I feel like, due to the fictionalizing of it, the book is far enough removed from Auschwitz that it's okay to be negative about the book without being insensitive about the Holocaust. Second, this doesn't land on my "run away! Save yourself!" shelf, because that's more for books that are comically bad--books that I can bash with glee and mock with abandon. I can't find anything funny about what makes this book so bad; it's just plain offensive and shallow.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hailey (HaileyinBookland)

    3.5* I didn't love this, but I did appreciate the fact that it had a very powerful message (and an ending I wasn't expecting at all). My feelings were definitely changed by the fact that the author describes the story as a fable. The abstractness makes a lot more sense in that way. Definitely an unforgettable read, nonetheless!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" would easily top my list of "Worst Books about the Holocaust." I am writing as one who was there -- I was once myself a boy in striped pajamas and am a survivor of six German concentration camps. This book is so ignorant of historical facts about concentration camps that it kicks the history of the Holocaust right in the teeth. John Boyne's premise is that the nine-year old son of the commandant of Auschwitz, bored with his isolated life, takes walks to the fence s "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" would easily top my list of "Worst Books about the Holocaust." I am writing as one who was there -- I was once myself a boy in striped pajamas and am a survivor of six German concentration camps. This book is so ignorant of historical facts about concentration camps that it kicks the history of the Holocaust right in the teeth. John Boyne's premise is that the nine-year old son of the commandant of Auschwitz, bored with his isolated life, takes walks to the fence surrounding this infamous camp and meets there a nine-year old inmate who is on the other side of the fence. The two boys become friends and continue meeting on a daily basis. Here is some news for Mr. Boyne. The 10-ft high barbed wire fence surrounding each camp was electrified. Touch if once and you are fried. There was a no-man's land on each side of the fence; along the inside perimeter of the fence were guard towers; each tower was manned by an armed guard around the clock; each guard was responsible for one segment of the fence within his vision; it was his duty to prevent anyone from approaching the fence, either from the inside, or from the outside; he was under orders to shoot anyone he saw approaching the no-man's-land. In addition, along the outside perimeter, prominent signs proclaimed, "STOP - Danger - High-Voltage Electricity." So that even a dense nine-year-old would get the message, a skull and cross-bones were pictured at the top of each sign. Let me add this. A nine-year-old boy arriving in Auschwitz-Birkenau on a cattle train would take only a single walk in this camp: from the train to the gas chamber. "The Boy in The Striped Pajamas" makes a mockery of these very basic facts. It is a fantasy that does untold damage to the cause of truth about the Holocaust. This book has only one purpose: to make a lot of money for the author and the publisher. And this purpose it accomplishes. The publisher recently proudly trumpeted in an ad in the New York Times: over one-million copies sold and still going strong. And that's not even counting the profits from the revolting movie based on this book. Peter Kubicek Author of "MEMORIES OF EVIL" -- a factual book about the Holocaust that will never make it on any list of best books about the Holocaust because my book tells it the way it was: there was nothing cute, nothing in any way benign about the concentration camps. These camps were about brutality, starvation, and sheer terror.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    As Michael Kors once sighed to a clueless designer on Project Runway: Where do I start? Let's open with some descriptive words that sum up this book, and I will then go on to explain them in further detail: Patronizing. Insipid. Smarmy. Just plain bad. Patronizing: I believe that to write good children's literature, you have to think that children are intelligent, capable human beings who are worth writing for - like Stephen King, who probably thinks kids are smarter than adults. The author of T As Michael Kors once sighed to a clueless designer on Project Runway: Where do I start? Let's open with some descriptive words that sum up this book, and I will then go on to explain them in further detail: Patronizing. Insipid. Smarmy. Just plain bad. Patronizing: I believe that to write good children's literature, you have to think that children are intelligent, capable human beings who are worth writing for - like Stephen King, who probably thinks kids are smarter than adults. The author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, on the other hand, clearly thinks that children are idiots. The main character, Bruno, is supposed to be nine years old, but compared to him Danny Torrance of The Shining (who was six) looks like a Mensa member. There's childlike naivety, and then there's Bruno, who is so stunningly unobservant and unperceptive that I actually started to wonder if he was supposed to be mentally deficient somehow. And he's not the only child who receives Boyne's withering scorn and condescension. Take this scene between Bruno and his sister Gretel, when they've just moved to their house at "Out-With" (as Bruno insists on calling it, despite being corrected many times and seeing the name written down) and are wondering how long they're going to stay there. Bruno's father, a commandant in charge of the camp, has told the kids that they'll be there "for the foreseeable future" and Bruno doesn't know what that means. "'It means weeks from now,' Gretel said with an intelligent nod of her head. 'Perhaps as long as three.'" Gretel is twelve years old, by the way. TWELVE. See what I meant about Boyne thinking kids are morons? Insipid And Smarmy: this book was not meant for kids to read. It's meant for adults who know about the Holocaust already, so they can read it and sigh over the precious innocent widdle children's adorable misunderstanding of the horrible events surrounding them and how they still remain innocent and uuuuuuggggggghhhhh. There's a scene towards the end, where Bruno puts on a pair of the "striped pajamas" so he can visit his friend on the other side of the fence. Bruno has had lice, so his head is shaved. When he puts on the pajamas, the Jewish boy observes him and the narration commits the following Hallmark-worthy atrocity: "If it wasn't for the fact that Bruno was nowhere near as skinny as the boys on his side of the fence, and not quite so pale either, it would have been difficult to tell them apart. It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were all exactly the same really." YES JOHN BOYNE I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE. Just Plain Bad: This book is, technically, historic fiction, but I'm not putting it on my history shelf, because there is nothing historical in this book. Bruno is supposed to have grown up in Nazi Germany, the son of a high ranking SS officer, but based on his knowledge of everything, he's spent his entire nine years sitting inside with his eyes shut humming loudly while covering his ears. Okay, I get that he wouldn't know about the concentration camps - hardly anyone did at that point. But there are other things: Bruno consistently (and adorably!) mispronounces the Fuhrer as "the Fury" (I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE JOHN BOYNE), and doesn't recognize the following key words and phrases: Jews, Fatherland, Heil Hitler. What. The fuck. Okay, so maybe this kid's too young to be in Hitler Youth (his sister isn't though, but for some reason she's not in it either), but come on - he thinks "Heil Hitler" is just a polite way to end a conversation. A nine-year-old boy growing up in a military household in Nazi Germany doesn't know what Heil Hitler means. All of this comes back to my original thesis: John Boyne thinks that children are idiots. Look, Boyne: just because you don't understand anything (history, children, good writing) doesn't mean the rest of us are quite so useless. Go cash your checks for that awful movie adaptation they did of this book and never try to make a statement about anything ever again, please. Read for: Social Justice in Young Adult Literature

  5. 5 out of 5

    F

    Found this in a charity shop and couldn't put it down. So sad. Really loved it. Had no idea it would end how it did.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    I seriously suggest you read about what happened to real children in the Holocaust. It won't fill your thoughts for many days or shock you; rather it will fill your LIFE and make you feel sick to the core of your being. Paul Friedlander, himself a survivor, recounts in his recent highly praised book the incident of 90 Jewish infants all under the age of five, orphaned after their parents were murdered in a mass shooting. These children were subjected to indescribable mistreatment for days. Then the I seriously suggest you read about what happened to real children in the Holocaust. It won't fill your thoughts for many days or shock you; rather it will fill your LIFE and make you feel sick to the core of your being. Paul Friedlander, himself a survivor, recounts in his recent highly praised book the incident of 90 Jewish infants all under the age of five, orphaned after their parents were murdered in a mass shooting. These children were subjected to indescribable mistreatment for days. Then they were individually hanged. I read this with horror, revulsion and total disbelief. (ref.The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939 - 1945) Or the incident of the young German soldier participating in the evacuation of the patients in the hospital in the Warsaw Ghetto. In the presence of a distraught Jewish crowd of relatives and onlookers, patients were being thrown onto the backs of trucks.The babies were being thrown from the upper windows. The soldier requested and was given permission to catch the falling babies on his bayonet. (ref. The Holocaust - the Jewish Tragedy by Martin Gilbert. ISBN 0 00 637194 9 ) There are so many historical inaccuracies and ludicrous details in this totally implausible story of Boyne's eg. Bruno's ignorance of basics, impossible when he would have been in the Hitler Youth and the Nazi education system.This travesty of the Holocaust is called a 'fable' as if with all its faults, it has special claim on some gravitas, thus giving Boyne justification for this lame expose of racism. I was a member of the Jewish Holocaust Committee here in Sydney for a while and once had to endure a young rabbi lecturing on how the Holocaust was God's punishment on the Jews. So there are fools to be found inside the club as well as outside it. Not a single pure ethnic German child entered a gas chamber as part of the extermination of the Jews...although many died in Germany as part of the pre-war killing of disabled and retarded children.When protests brought this program to a close the same staff were later sent to operate the gas chambers in the camps. And for six million Jewish men, women and children there was no saviour. This bitter pill is too much for some people to swallow. Some, like the young rabbi, takes refuge in blaming the very victims; others find refuge in sentimental fiction such as Boyne's which does no honour to these tragic, lost people. And today there are perverse forces abroad, from renowned historians to Catholic bishops, who would deny that the Holocaust ever took place or to an extraordinary lesser degree.They use every discrepancy of detail as well as lies to justify their denial. So for anyone touching on this subject it is vital and morally incumbent on them to GET THE FACTS RIGHT. There is an overwhelming library of rivetting, emotional, inspiring and tragic Holocaust stories out there - all factual, which you may have already plunged into. Boyne may even have led you there. But finally Boyne just deserves to fade away. P.S.The Oscar winning Foreign Language film of 1997, "Life is Beautiful", was also, not surprisingly, referred to as a 'fable'. It also is an implausible piece of Holocaust sentimentality and a stampede away from having to swallow the bitter pill of reality.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    A powerful concept, but very poorly written (even allowing for the young adult target audience) - and one of a tiny number of books I can think of that was better in the film version. Plot Bruno is 9 and lives in Berlin in 1943 with his parents and 12 year old sister. They are wealthy and his father is an important soldier who is promoted to be the Commandant at Auschwitz. The trick of the story is that Bruno doesn't realise the horror of what goes on behind the barbed wire, where everyone wears s A powerful concept, but very poorly written (even allowing for the young adult target audience) - and one of a tiny number of books I can think of that was better in the film version. Plot Bruno is 9 and lives in Berlin in 1943 with his parents and 12 year old sister. They are wealthy and his father is an important soldier who is promoted to be the Commandant at Auschwitz. The trick of the story is that Bruno doesn't realise the horror of what goes on behind the barbed wire, where everyone wears striped pyjamas, even when he befriends a boy of the same age at a corner of the camp. Although his father can be strict and distant, Bruno is unfailing in his trust in the goodness of his father. In the film, there was at least a gradual, if reluctant, dawning of doubt about his father and all he stood for, but that doesn't happen in the book; the themes of family, friendship and trust are barely touched on. Implausible Ignorance The main problem is that it's told from Bruno's viewpoint, and he is ridiculously naive and ignorant for the son of a senior Nazi. Not knowing, and not wanting to know, the horror of what was happening is entirely understandable (especially when a parent is involved). However, he hasn't heard of "the Fatherland", thinks the Fuhrer is called The Fury (throughout), that Auschwitz is called "Out With" and that "Heil Hitler" means "goodbye"! Yet we're meant to believe that he's the 9 year old son of a senior Nazi! His father had clearly been neglecting his duty to train the next generation of Hitler youth. And anyway, the puns wouldn't work in German. What is even more insulting to readers is that Boyne has responded to this widespread point of criticism by saying that anyone who thinks the boy is too naive is denying the holocaust! (See Kelly H. (Maybedog) comment on Oct 02, 2012 and subsequent ones). Other Flaws * Surely some aspects of Schmuel's plight would have been glaringly obvious (emaciated, shorn hair, possibly lice-ridden, ragged clothes etc)? * There are several stock phrases that are trotted out annoyingly often ("a Hopeless Case", "mouth in the shape of an O", "if he was honest as he always tried to be"). * They talk of miles not kilometres and feet not centimetres, which might not matter were the rest of it more realistic. * Just occasionally, and completely out of character, Bruno talks in an unnaturally adult way ("If you ask me we're all in the same boat. And it's leaking", and a nasty person who "always looked as if he wanted to cut someone out of his will"). It might have worked better if Bruno had been 5 or 6, but I suppose the target audience would have been less willing to read it, so the result is a book that isn't really suitable for any age group. What a waste. Postscript 1 Arising from Kelly Hawkins' review: Boyne says: I think the most frequent criticism of the book in the years since it’s been published is that Bruno is too naive. People say: “He’s verging on the stupid – how could he not know?” For all the criticisms you can make, I always feel that’s the wrong one because he’s grown up in a house with his father wearing a uniform, so I always think why would be question it? There wouldn’t be any motivation for him to suddenly turn around… if your father came home wearing a doctor’s uniform every day, you wouldn’t turn around one day and ask: “Why are you wearing that?” So, Bruno is kind of representing that blindness, in a way. When he goes to the fence, and when he asks that question, he is kind of representing the rest of us who are trying to understand the Holocaust and find some answers to it. Also, when the camps were liberated, the world was surprised through 1945 and 1946. The majority of the Holocaust had taken place over four years and, granted, it was a different information age but I still maintain that in those sorts of movies, the naivety is appropriate. It’s based on real life. From: http://www.indielondon.co.uk/Books-Re... Elsewhere, he is quoted as saying that naivety and complacency were two of the main reasons the Holocaust occurred (http://yareviews.wikispaces.com/The+B...). I find that a very unsatisfying defence. It answers why people don't want to know the horrors (which I fully acknowledge), but does not begin to tackle Bruno's specific ignorance of common words related to the Third Reich. Postscript 2, October 2015 His new book has a similar title and another Nazi theme - with Hitler himself this time: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain. I won't be reading that, but I suspect it will cause similar controversy. Postscript 3 See this excellent review by a survivor of Nazi concentration camps. Boyne (posting as John) responded to some of the criticisms: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Postscript 4, 14 May 2017 In today's Sunday Times, the Prime Minister Theresa May was asked by a 19-year old in her constituency, "Has your thinking ever changed because of a novel?" She replied: "A book that brought something home to me was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. It is a very, very cleverly written book and a very well-written book, and what it brings home is the absolute horror of the Holocaust." Hmmm.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Arlene

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is truly an amazing yet daunting novel that I will never forget. The author John Boyne did a masterful job of depicting the setting in such vivid detail and exposing the events in a manner that I felt a constant emotional pull as the story unfolded and impending doom lingered on the horizon. I was recommended this novel a while back while reading The Book Thief, but after finishing that story and experiencing such deep sadness, I knew I couldn’t jump into another no The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is truly an amazing yet daunting novel that I will never forget. The author John Boyne did a masterful job of depicting the setting in such vivid detail and exposing the events in a manner that I felt a constant emotional pull as the story unfolded and impending doom lingered on the horizon. I was recommended this novel a while back while reading The Book Thief, but after finishing that story and experiencing such deep sadness, I knew I couldn’t jump into another novel about the Holocaust for quite some time. I’m glad I waited because as with other works that cover this topic, distance and perspective is key. I feel the author did a grand job of juxtaposing two resounding themes in such a flawless manner; one being of the evil that was the Holocaust; against the second theme that of the innocence of a child. I thought it was brilliant of Boyne to tell the story from the perspective of a nine year old German boy as you experience the events of this abominable and unthinkable time in history as a mere complicit bystander, which ultimately leaves you with a sense of hopelessness. The story unfolds the day Bruno arrives home to discover his family is moving from Berlin to Auschwitz where his father will serve as a Commandant for the concentration camp. Bruno is forced to leave his three best friends for life and discovers that life in Auschwitz is lonely and desolate. All that changes the day he meets a boy his exact age and they begin to forge a friendship over the course of year. However, as much as he finds he and Schmuel have in common, living on opposite sides of the fence proves to have a devastating consequence to their friendship. After completing this book, I did some research on the author and the novel and found that he not only received well deserved praise for this book, but also harsh criticism. As with any piece of literature, when words are committed to page and presented to an audience for their interpretation there will be varying degrees of acceptance and backlash. Couple that with such a sensitive topic and you’re bound to get a reaction. Well, my hats off to John Boyne for tackling a story through a unique perspective and presenting a poignant fable that as a reader I willingly suspended my reality and experienced the events in a way that exposed my emotions and feelings to such a raw level. Well done IMHO.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lola

    When I was very young, I lived in Romania. Because there was past drama in my family, I had three grandmothers and two grandfathers. I was close to two of my grandmothers and one of my grandfathers, because they lived near my mother, brother, stepfather and I. The other couple, I only saw during summers. They lived in the country, where there was no indoor bathroom, no internet, no chocolate and no sense of community (that I felt at the age of six). Every morning, I would wake up from the best of When I was very young, I lived in Romania. Because there was past drama in my family, I had three grandmothers and two grandfathers. I was close to two of my grandmothers and one of my grandfathers, because they lived near my mother, brother, stepfather and I. The other couple, I only saw during summers. They lived in the country, where there was no indoor bathroom, no internet, no chocolate and no sense of community (that I felt at the age of six). Every morning, I would wake up from the best of dreams: that my mom would be coming that day to pick me up. But she never did, because she was far away and we had to stay for three whole months with our grandparents. I felt lonely. I had no one to play with. There was my brother, but just like Bruno’s sister, he was older and we had nothing in common, or so it seemed at that time. One day, I met a little girl. I was surprised I’d never seen her before, because she was the daughter of our neighbours. I was so happy that I immediately invited her to our house. We played for a while, and it was wonderful. For once, I wasn’t thinking about going back home or feeling bad about ignoring the eager little dog we had that always scratched my legs badly. I had a friend. When my grandfather woke up from his nap and saw me playing with this girl, he was so angry I thought he would hurt her. He shooed her away forcefully. I didn’t understand his reaction. Why couldn’t I play with this little girl? We both liked dolls and we weren’t doing anything wrong. I was six, what did I care that she had a darker skin colour, spoke another language entirely and prayed to different gods? It made me so mad, I became a lion. I roared at him, and roared until I had no more voice. Then I cried, because there was nothing else I could have done as a very young child. She was too scared of my grandfather to talk to me again. There was a huge wall between our houses and I could see nothing of what was happening on their side, so I never saw her again either. I understand the loneliness Bruno felt all too well. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Lincoln's doctor's dog. An archaic reference in the publishing industry to the notion that the way to ensure a book is a bestseller is to write about Lincoln, dogs, or doctors. This prompted one author to title his book which is about publishing in the 1930s Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog. - From www.metaphordogs.org Maybe Lincoln, doctors and dogs have gone out of fashion; but children, the Holocaust and friendship are still the rage. So the sure-fire formula for creating a bestseller is to write a story Lincoln's doctor's dog. An archaic reference in the publishing industry to the notion that the way to ensure a book is a bestseller is to write about Lincoln, dogs, or doctors. This prompted one author to title his book which is about publishing in the 1930s Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog. - From www.metaphordogs.org Maybe Lincoln, doctors and dogs have gone out of fashion; but children, the Holocaust and friendship are still the rage. So the sure-fire formula for creating a bestseller is to write a story about children’s friendship during the Holocaust… …even if you don’t know the first thing about it. The Boy in Striped Pyjamas is the heart-warming (read “emotionally manipulative”) story of the doomed friendship between two pre-teen boys, born on the same day (one Jew and one the son of a Nazi) and its inevitable tragic conclusion. Yes, that’s right: get your handkerchiefs here, folks. When I review a book, I look at both the medium and the content. Sometimes, you will find a great story which is badly written: at other times, a story which is only so-so will be made palatable through great prose. Sometimes you have both, and the book becomes really enjoyable. And when the medium and the content are so aptly intertwined to be inseparable, you have a truly great book. Very rarely, you have the misfortune to encounter a really abominable story which is abysmally written into the bargain – this happened to me with this book. The only good thing I can say about it is that it is a very fast read. Now for the analysis. The Background This book is historical fiction (yes, yes, I know that the author has claimed it is a fable situated in the time of the Holocaust: but unfortunately, the Holocaust is history) yet it pays no heed to historical accuracy. Auschwitz, according to my knowledge, had no children – they were sent to gas chambers the moment they arrived. Yet here we have a camp which is literally crawling with kids, almost like a kindergarten. We also have a German child Bruno, who despite being the son of a high-ranking Nazi officer who is very close to Hitler, does not know about Aryans, Jews and the concentration camps. Agreed, he may not be aware of the atrocities going on in those places: but in the real world, he would have been inducted into the fairy tales about Aryan supremacy and the “Jewish problem”. In the book, Bruno remains blissfully ignorant about all until the end. He almost seems mentally challenged. My knowledge about Auschwitz comes from reading history books only, but as far as I know, the camps were guarded by electrified fences and patrolled heavily across the clock. It would not have been easy for somebody just to lift up the barbed wire and crawl in. And how was Schmuel (the Jewish boy) able to constantly evade the guards and come to the same spot at the fence where it was loose at the bottom? (Yeah, it’s a fable, I know: maybe the exigencies of plot also had to do with the historical manipulation?) Characterisation Bruno is easily one of the most annoying protagonists ever created. Naiveté one can understand – it is difficult to understand outright stupidity. The boy simply refuses to see what happens in front of his eyes. Even if he has not been indoctrinated (impossible, as mentioned earlier, in Nazi Germany), he would have picked up much more. Children do. Most of the other characters are pasteboard, including Schmuel, the Jewish kid, put there as props to support the plot and move it along. They are all one-dimensional other than the servant Maria and the Jewish doctor-turned-waiter Pavel. But they serve only to fill the space around Bruno. The Writing I could have forgiven Mr. Boyne for all these historical blunders and failures in characterisation, had he written good prose. But that is the most terrible part of the book – the prose is puerile. First, the repetition. Bruno’s mouth forms an “O” and his hands stretch out at his sides whenever he is surprised, which is quite often: ultimately I started picturing him as a cartoon stick figure I used to draw as a kid. We are told that his sister Gretel is a Hopeless Case every time she is mentioned. The same with Father’s office being Out Of Bounds At All Times And No Exceptions… I could go on and on. As a teen, I used to watch Hollywood war movies in which all Germans spoke English. While I could understand that this gimmick was required to avoid subtitles, sometimes they spoke English with a German accent… maybe to highlight their “German-ness” … this I found ridiculous. I had the same feeling about the puns Boyne used in this novel (“Fury” for Fuhrer and “Out-with” for Auschwitz). I don’t even know whether they will work in German. However, the biggest problem was the child’s POV. It’s just idiotic… an adult talking baby talk and trying to imitate a child. Once in a while, the adult pops out from behind the visage (“we are all in the same boat, and it’s leaking”). It’s just tiresome. The narrative was problematic. Half the time, I was not sure whether the author was writing an adult’s novel with a child’s viewpoint, or a mature novel for children – it fails on both counts. As I said before, the child’s POV does not work, and even with all the toned-down violence it’s not a suitable novel for children. And plot holes… don’t get me talking about them! From the loose fence under which one can crawl through, the story jumps from hole to hole till it drops into the biggest hole of them all, the tragic finale. By that time, Boyne is pushing all the emotional buttons, trying to bring the tears on at full throttle… but the real tragedy here is the death of literature. I understand that this book is a bestseller, and I can understand the reasons. I regret to say that this seems to me like adroit marketing of human tragedy… successful in this case.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I have actually sat for five full minutes gazing at a blank page and wondering what to say about this book. Words don't usually fail me! It does of course deal with a very painful and shocking part of our history and there are criticisms about some alterations to the true facts. However The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is obviously intended for the younger end of the young adult range and the presentation needs to be fairly simplistic. Boyne himself describes it as a fable, that is a fiction story I have actually sat for five full minutes gazing at a blank page and wondering what to say about this book. Words don't usually fail me! It does of course deal with a very painful and shocking part of our history and there are criticisms about some alterations to the true facts. However The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is obviously intended for the younger end of the young adult range and the presentation needs to be fairly simplistic. Boyne himself describes it as a fable, that is a fiction story with a moral, and I think that is a good description. Writing from the point of view of the very naïve nine year old Bruno is very effective and makes the reader work a little harder to sort out events. I was several pages in before it suddenly dawned on me that the Fury was the Fuhrer but I was a bit quicker to identify Out With. That ending is so very, very sad. And then the final paragraph which reads like something from a fairy tale when it was so totally the opposite: "And that's the end of the story about Bruno and his family. Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    There are plenty of insightful reviews on this piece of sensationalist, badly written, idiotic Disneyfication of the Holocaust on Goodreads. I don't have anything to add to the criticism, except that I would love to see it taken off the curriculum in schools. Here are my replacement suggestions: Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944 When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw And of course for more mature students, I recommend Anne Fran There are plenty of insightful reviews on this piece of sensationalist, badly written, idiotic Disneyfication of the Holocaust on Goodreads. I don't have anything to add to the criticism, except that I would love to see it taken off the curriculum in schools. Here are my replacement suggestions: Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944 When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw And of course for more mature students, I recommend Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel and other authentic witness accounts. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is a shameless money-making machine without writing skill or depth, without nuance or finesse, without basic knowledge of history or children's levels of understanding at age 9, and without the slightest ethical guidelines. The target group is unfortunately a generation of parents, teachers and children who have lost touch with complex historical and linguistic knowledge and who need a babyish, fictionalised, shockingly inaccurate version of the Second World War to stay focused - and that is unacceptable in my opinion. Instead of giving in to the lower level of comprehension, we need to put in the extra effort to be able to read on the same level as generations of children before! We can't afford to lose the literacy fight, as it means losing the fight for historical knowledge and distinctions!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I'll give it this much. Few books have caused me to actually shake SHAKE in anger. Wow. I think I need to go boil my eyeballs for a while. What was the author thinking?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bibliophile

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a Holocaust “fable” by the Irish writer John Boyne, in which a nine-year-old German boy named Bruno arrives at Auschwitz (or as the novel coyly and annoyingly calls it “Out-With”) when his father is named as the camp’s new commandant. Bruno is incredibly naïve (to the point where I began to wonder whether he might not be mentally retarded, in which case he would most likely have been murdered under the Nazi euthanasia program long before the timeline of the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a Holocaust “fable” by the Irish writer John Boyne, in which a nine-year-old German boy named Bruno arrives at Auschwitz (or as the novel coyly and annoyingly calls it “Out-With”) when his father is named as the camp’s new commandant. Bruno is incredibly naïve (to the point where I began to wonder whether he might not be mentally retarded, in which case he would most likely have been murdered under the Nazi euthanasia program long before the timeline of the book, thus sparing us this novel!) and thinks that the men in the striped pajamas whom he can see from his upstairs window are all on vacation, until he meets another boy (in the striped pajamas) named Schmuel and befriends him. Apparently, calling this book a “fable” precluded any attempt at historical accuracy or psychological acuity on the author’s part. First, the premise that a nine-year-old boy in Nazi Germany wouldn’t know who the Führer was or what Heil Hitler meant is absolutely ludicrous (as is his ridiculous “mishearing” of Führer as “Fury”, which only works in English and not in German, where the word for "fury" is "Zorn" or "Wut"!) Bruno, at nine, is one year shy of mandatory membership in the Hitler-Jugend, and his sister Gretel, at 12, would have been in the BDM for the previous TWO years and moreover the children of a high-ranking SS officer would absolutely have known who Hitler was and not mixed up his name. So that gave me pause from about page 5 on. Bruno would be marginally more believable as a four- or five-year-old but then John Boyne wouldn’t have been able to give him a Jewish counterpart. Even though there were some – VERY FEW! – little children who managed to survive Auschwitz, the chances that a five-year-old would have done so would be much smaller than even a nine-year-old’s capacity to survive the initial selections and the work that was meant to slowly kill the inmates. Then add in all the other implausibilities such as not Bruno's not knowing what “Jews” were or even the word "Jew", when Bruno would have been assaulted by propaganda against Jewish people virtually since his birth in 1934! Apparently, Bruno also doesn’t know what an air-raid is, even though he’s lived through them. REALLY? Then there is the part where the fence at Auschwitz is not only not electrified, and doesn’t have guards and guarddogs, but even has a hole at the bottom. PLEASE! People didn’t wander in and out of Auschwitz at will, or it would have been a very different place! Boyne’s Nazis read like Colonel Klink in terms of their planning, not like the highly efficient mass-murderers they were. And let’s not get started on how Schmuel apparently has the ability to mysteriously vanish from the constant Appells and the backbreaking labor that’s probably the only reason he’s still alive. And more trivially, Bruno wouldn't be reading Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island - he'd be much more likely to be reading Karl May! All of my criticisms make me think that Boyne did absolutely no research on German history, the German language, Nazis, the Holocaust or Auschwitz, and I'm beyond irritated to find out that this book is being touted as "the new Diary of Anne Frank" and indeed, replacing that work for kids in some schools. This book trivializes the Holocaust and the murder of millions by turning these things into a feeble allegory about the universality of ethnic hatred and positing that all we really need are two boys who can crawl under the fences to each other. Blech! I don’t understand why Boyne chose the Holocaust as its setting, as the novel says nothing meaningful about the Holocaust at all, its maudlin chocolate-box sentimentality (UGH, THE ENDING!) and simplistic narration in fact undercut the idea that Germans were willfully blind to what was being done in their name. Bruno’s not just ignorant; he’s actually stupid. Perhaps the story would have worked from the perspective of, say, Bruno’s mother, and her blindness to what her husband was doing because his work assured them of a comfortable existence. But then again, I’m not sure anything could have saved this pretentious twaddle! Save your money and buy the non-fiction The Diary of Anne Frank or Night by Elie Wiesel, or if you’re set on a fictional tale about the Holocaust, then choose The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which is a hell of a lot more believable even if it is narrated by Death himself!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julia Miller

    I am bawling my eyes out. John Boyne, thank you for writing this. ❤ I‘ve read many books about the Holocaust (I‘m German so I have been confronted with this topic from very early on) and this is by far my favorite one. I love the bond Schmuel and Bruno share and Bruno‘s innocence. While reading some particular scene I‘ve felt terribly guilty of what my country once has done. I wish I could undo all the horrible things that happened to innocent people ( including all people who were affected by t I am bawling my eyes out. John Boyne, thank you for writing this. ❤️ I‘ve read many books about the Holocaust (I‘m German so I have been confronted with this topic from very early on) and this is by far my favorite one. I love the bond Schmuel and Bruno share and Bruno‘s innocence. While reading some particular scene I‘ve felt terribly guilty of what my country once has done. I wish I could undo all the horrible things that happened to innocent people ( including all people who were affected by the Holocaust, not only the Jews).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Al Bità

    There is nothing to learn from this book. There is much to dislike. From certain perspectives, it can even be said to be detestable. First of all, there is the authorial conceit that the work is written from the perspective of a child. The worst example of this come in the use of euphemisms for the Fuhrer ('the Fury') and for Auschwitz ('Out With') which become increasingly irritating as the work progresses. Bruno's 'difficulty' with these words is somehow supposed to charm us, and apparently giv There is nothing to learn from this book. There is much to dislike. From certain perspectives, it can even be said to be detestable. First of all, there is the authorial conceit that the work is written from the perspective of a child. The worst example of this come in the use of euphemisms for the Fuhrer ('the Fury') and for Auschwitz ('Out With') which become increasingly irritating as the work progresses. Bruno's 'difficulty' with these words is somehow supposed to charm us, and apparently gives the reader 'in the know' a soft, patronising glow which is presumably there to create a certain kind of sympathy for Bruno. It is interesting to note that Bruno apparently had no difficulty with the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas's name of Schmuel (maybe he could have referred to him as the 'mule'?). The same tweeness is in the description of the prison garb as 'striped pyjamas', ahtough that is less irritating. It is really pushing the envelope to assume that Bruno is as naive as depicted. At age 8/9 he would have been in school, and subject to the indoctrination of the Hitler Youth; and he certainly would have been fully aware of not only Hitler, but how to pronounce Fuhrer! Indeed, it is this apparent ignorance of even the most basic things about Hitler's Germany, and it's attitude to Jews, that would have been brainwashed into the minds of German Youth, that is hardest to come to grips with. The author's 'childlike' writing permits him to draw several obscuring veils over the whole question. Even at the end, as Bruno and Schmuel go hand in hand into the 'darkness' and 'disappear' there is really nothing to indicate what happened to them. A child reading this, without any awareness of the horrors of Auschwitz, could be forgiven for believing simply that they 'disappeared' into some mysterious unknown. Thus despite its cutesy language, the book is obviously intended to be read by adults who presumably DO know what happened to them; and that fact alone makes the writing condescending and patronising to say the least. Since the reader is presumed to know these things, they will also know that the situation described in the book could never have happened. There is sufficient doubt whether any 8/9 year-old child would have ever survived past the first few hours at Auschwitz, except as possible 'medical experiment' subjects; it is hard to believe that Schmuel could have consistently been able to meet Bruno for the period of a whole year without being discovered and dealt with; and in any case, would he really have had access to a depot where other 'striped pyjamas of Bruno's size were stored?... And, by the way, isn't it lucky that Schmuel speaks German. Had he been from some other country and spoken a different language, who knows how the story might have gone? These are just some of the many irritations to be found in the book. The author has tried to justify it by arguing that the story is a fable, and that these things don't matter. But if it is a fable, then fables usually teach a moral of some kind. What is the moral in this story? Don't trust in the friendship of Jews? Innocence and ignorance is no protection for awful things to happen to you? The fact that people feel saddened by the ending, or even shocked by it, is even more repellent: the sadness seems to be reserved for poor, innocent, ignorant Bruno, who goes to his death still innocent, and still ignorant. Because of the 'hiding' of the reality of the Auschwitz atrocities, the whole situation regarding Schmuel and the other victims seems to disappear, just as Schmuel and Bruno do. Sad, isn't it? I cannot help but feel deep repulsion towards this 'fable'. That such a deeply offensive approach is somehow apparently easily disregarded because of a twee authorial trick of using sweet, sugary language, and helps make it such a popular, 'safe' book (no nasties crawling about here!) makes me despair at the dulling of any critical facilities or acumen on behalf of the public who love it. The book is inane, badly written, historically inaccurate, lacking in any sense of moral teaching (no one in the book 'learns' anything, or even changes their attitude to anything) and is hardly inspiring. It is banal.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)

    You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine. Since I am the last of the 4.357 gagillion readers out there to read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I won’t rehash what can be read in the blurb and I’m going to limit my review to the few points I found to be most important. This is a YA novel and the easy, simple way in which it is written really punctuates one of the main themes; the innocence and naiveté of children. At times I felt Bruno was a bit of a spoiled turd. I then felt gui You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine. Since I am the last of the 4.357 gagillion readers out there to read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I won’t rehash what can be read in the blurb and I’m going to limit my review to the few points I found to be most important. This is a YA novel and the easy, simple way in which it is written really punctuates one of the main themes; the innocence and naiveté of children. At times I felt Bruno was a bit of a spoiled turd. I then felt guilty for feeling that way. I’m not sure I need to feel guilty though. After all, don’t most nine year olds behave like turds every now and then? It didn’t make me like him any less. I appreciated the way the relationship between his parents was portrayed. Most if it went over Bruno’s head which, once again, illustrated his naiveté and the often false sense of security children feel within their family. There is so much to be said out Bruno’s looking out his window and imagining a life for the people he saw which was so far off from their experience. This would be a great discussion point for a book club. Bruno’s friendship with Shmuel created an anxiety that made turning the pages both compelling and daunting. That ending! Wow, I really didn’t see that coming until the very last minute. I can’t really discuss without spoilers but I can think of several themes folded in. And those last sentences? Scary and timely! It could definitely inspire a very lively book club discussion/debate. Although I found the book to be very sad and very touching, it didn’t make me cry the way I had anticipated. Perhaps because I was expecting it to be sad. I had been warned on multiple occasions to read with a box of tissue at my side. I’m certainly glad I read this book and continue to be a huge fan of Boyne’s work.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shannon (leaninglights)

    This story. I'm glad I finally read it. It's taken me years to pick it up and watching the movie last month gave me the nudge to finally read it. Actually seeing it was worse (in the movie) in terms of heartbreak and devastation. Such a powerful read, but not for the faint of heart.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hadrian

    Another case of some unscrupulous bastard making money with overwrought dramatizations of real tragedies. The Holocaust was a crime beyond imagining, and tying in adorable children and cliched tales of ~Friendship~ would only make the book more tempting to those easily swayed by the spell of sentimentality. Urgh.

  20. 4 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    5★ “Bruno had read enough books about explorers to know that one could never be sure what one was going to find. Most of the time they came across something interesting that was just sitting there, minding its own business, waiting to be discovered (such as America). Other times they discovered something that was probably best left alone (like a dead mouse at the back of a cupboard).” A remarkable, simply told ‘fable’, as the title says – a parable about a boy who realises if he wants answers to h 5★ “Bruno had read enough books about explorers to know that one could never be sure what one was going to find. Most of the time they came across something interesting that was just sitting there, minding its own business, waiting to be discovered (such as America). Other times they discovered something that was probably best left alone (like a dead mouse at the back of a cupboard).” A remarkable, simply told ‘fable’, as the title says – a parable about a boy who realises if he wants answers to his questions, he’s going to have to discover them for himself. Mostly, he just wants to know why he has to put up with rules and be lonely and uncomfortable. Bruno is a nine-year old boy living a privileged life in a big house in Berlin with his parents and his annoying twelve-year-old sister, Gretel. When the story opens, he walks into his bedroom and discovers the maid packing up all his things. He tries to think what he’s done wrong and worries that he’s being sent away. No, they’re all moving because of Father’s job promotion. “He wasn’t particularly bothered if Gretel was being sent away because she was a Hopeless Case and caused nothing but trouble for him. But it seemed a little unfair that they all had to go with her.” Gretel can go – she treats him with nothing but disdain, anyway (as only an almost-teenaged girl can do). But he doesn’t want to leave his three best friends. He doesn’t think Father should have to move just because of his job and his shiny new uniform. Even if Father moves, why do the rest of them have to go live far away? After the move, he’s annoyed by the many other men in uniform who come and go from his father’s office in their new ‘home’. Mostly, he dislikes Lieutenant Kotler, a nineteen year old soldier who calls Bruno “little man” and with whom young Gretel tries to flirt outrageously. Kotler starts out handsome and cheerful but later hardens, to the point that Bruno explains one reason “. . . why he didn’t like Lieutenant Kotler. There was the fact that he never smiled and always looked as if he was trying to find somebody to cut out of his will.” What would make a nine-year-old think about wills? I think this is Bruno, using what he knows of life from an adventure story of someone off to seek their fortune (maybe because they've been cut out of a will). He lives in his head. This is written from Bruno’s naïve perspective, informed only by his stories and some eavesdropping. He’s confused by the changed behaviour of their servants. He’s openly frustrated by the restrictiveness of their new home, where people whisper (or shout) behind closed doors, but nobody answers his questions about the big fence outside their house and the people he can see in the distance. His innocence and curiosity are nicely contrasted with his sister’s feigned sophistication. He begins exploring to learn more about where he is and to try to find a friend. This began so quietly and simply, that I wondered if it would hold my interest. (It did.) It can be hard to believe how carefree and trusting a nine-year-old is who’s faced no challenges other than how to sneak an extra bit of dessert. Even quite young readers will be able to read it, although they may miss the subtleties which appear as tiny observations throughout. And they will need some explanation of the names and words that Bruno misunderstands. But they will eventually learn their significance. I can’t imagine many adults who would be unaffected by these children. Read the whole thing. (I haven't seen the film, but I think the book says it all.) Sometimes simple says it best.

  21. 5 out of 5

    J-Lynn

    I finished this book yesterday and I am still having trouble forming an opinion--but here it goes. I have thought about it a lot which is generally a sign of good writing, but in this case, maybe I am thinking about it because the book disturbed me. If I look at the Holocaust historical fiction genre as a whole, I am not sure what this book adds to the group. It does show another point of view, from the child of the Commandant of Auschwitz, but Bruno is so terrifically dense--naive well beyond hi I finished this book yesterday and I am still having trouble forming an opinion--but here it goes. I have thought about it a lot which is generally a sign of good writing, but in this case, maybe I am thinking about it because the book disturbed me. If I look at the Holocaust historical fiction genre as a whole, I am not sure what this book adds to the group. It does show another point of view, from the child of the Commandant of Auschwitz, but Bruno is so terrifically dense--naive well beyond his nine years--that I am not sure what the point is. Bruno talks to his Jewish friend on the other side of the fence for over a year--he lives in his house which also serves as the headquarters of Auschwitz for over a year--and I am supposed to believe that he doesn't have any clue what is going on in the camp? I know children are narcissistic and self involved, but this book takes that idea to a whole other level. Bruno's tunnel vision is so great that I keep wondering if maybe that it was some sort of message that the author was trying to get across. Maybe that kids can create and live in an alternate reality as long as they need to? Was that the point? If not, what was the point? Surely it wasn't the shocking ending that served little in adding to the greater story of the Holocaust. The ending served no purpose. It didn't make the father see what was wrong, it didn't make the guards question what they were doing, it didn't make the Jews who died in the camp any less tragic, what was the ending's purpose? My guess is just shock value. I do think the book makes an excellent argument for being honest with children in even the worst circumstances. By trying to protect kids and shield kids, adults put them in greater danger! I will say one positive thing, I thought the non-traditional book jacket was a good marketing ploy. By not giving away any of the plot points, it makes the reader intrigued. But, overall, I am flummoxed. The book is an enigma which, possibly, is better left unsolved.

  22. 5 out of 5

    James

    Before the film, the stage play and now the ballet…came the original novel. ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ is a challenging story and at times difficult to read, due to the subject matter and the manner in which it is portrayed. This is a compellingly original and extremely well-conceived and written book. Without wishing to give anything away to anyone who has not yet read ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ – this is the story of Bruno, a 9 year old boy growing up in Germany at the time of WWII Before the film, the stage play and now the ballet…came the original novel. ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ is a challenging story and at times difficult to read, due to the subject matter and the manner in which it is portrayed. This is a compellingly original and extremely well-conceived and written book. Without wishing to give anything away to anyone who has not yet read ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ – this is the story of Bruno, a 9 year old boy growing up in Germany at the time of WWII and is told from his very protected and naïve perspective – heartbreakingly so. Whilst the film adaptation was very good – it is unable to truly tell us the story as seen through a child’s all-too-believing eyes and therefore lacks the power and emotional impact that is at the heart of this fine novel. An excellent and important book that should be read by all.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jan Rice

    (Originally reviewed on March 28, 2017) After the umpteenth time of being confronted with the controversy over this book (primarily through one review and associated comments) I let myself provoked into reading it. I checked out the audio CDs (only four) and the book as well from the local library. My verdict: It's good, except maybe for the end. I liked it. It's a novel. It doesn't have to be realistic. Or graphic. Or abstract. The titular boy in the striped pajamas is a literary device, a condui (Originally reviewed on March 28, 2017) After the umpteenth time of being confronted with the controversy over this book (primarily through one review and associated comments) I let myself provoked into reading it. I checked out the audio CDs (only four) and the book as well from the local library. My verdict: It's good, except maybe for the end. I liked it. It's a novel. It doesn't have to be realistic. Or graphic. Or abstract. The titular boy in the striped pajamas is a literary device, a conduit for pouring another reality into the protagonist's life, otherwise dominated by such ordinary concerns as sibling rivalry and the demands of parents. That's the challenge, isn't it?--to get our heads above our own daily concerns (especially if we're safe and comfortable). I'm not sure confrontation with death and mayhem, much less abstract ideas, would make as much of an impression on the children and teenagers of today's world. For that we need the art of the novelist. At first I didn't like the ending, not because it was realistic or unrealistic, or happy or unhappy, but because of the jarring switch from the way the way the literary device was working...to something else. But after a few days I was okay with the ending, which I think cuts against culturally programmed expectations of the plot. Now, as to who may write (or, for that matter, say) what, and how, and the efforts to enforce that by ridicule, condemnation, or shaming, that's the attempted exercise of power. Think about the charge of cultural appropriation. Think of the accusation of microaggression. Groups who have traditionally been limited in what they can say (and think) would like to return the favor. But two wrongs don't make a right, as I've oft been told myself. I previously looked into this author's work and found that only this book and none of his others has become such a blockbuster. He's touched or captured something; the book is a phenom, and attacks are publicity. At any rate, I'm for free speech and against censorship. If you don't like it, do it better. Make it about what you want to say, since targeting somebody else isn't going to lift you. Or, if you have to protest, consider going after Holocaust romance instead of this one. (Yes, there is Holocaust romance.) Addendum, April 16, 2017 In my review proper, I framed the controversy over this book both as one of power and one of free speech--huge topics to which I just alluded. Here's a related topic, one concerning teaching ten-year-0lds. The two topics overlap assuming The Boy in the Striped Pajamas gets assigned to young readers. What gets taught in public schools has long been a flashpoint for controversy. Last year a teacher in the Atlanta metropolitan area used an interactive teaching method ("game") to teach about slavery in her fifth-grade classroom. One black student complained of being distressed to her grandmother, who was not satisfied with the response she received from the school and took to social media in posts that went viral. The young teacher was reportedly a stand-out at her job who was supported in this instance by her principal and fellow teachers. The student reportedly told her that what had disturbed (triggered?) her was not the "game," but slavery. The grandmother wasn't satisfied, though. I used to have high expectations of the education writer for The Atlanta Journa-Constitution, but in this case I thought she was caught up in the fray beyond her ability to be objective. Although she started out observing that the teaching method in question had been reasonable, she switched to a disapproving posture after soliciting advice from an outside expert who implied that teaching by means of a "game" meant "fun and games" and that the teacher was making light of slavery. She also implied white privilege was involved. (The teacher is white, and it appears the outside specialist is as well.) I was struck that the whole debate had become, not an exercise in reason, but a set-up (albeit made subtle by the appearance of reason) according to which the teacher's guilt was foreordained by who she is. Also, I can't see how the use of another teaching method (say, didactic, or discussion-based) would have precluded the ensuing kerfuffle, although the fact that the "game" had been used furnished a lot of ammunition. I don't know exactly what went down since I wasn't there. But neither was the outside specialist, and in her letter I could see her twisting words to justify her conclusion, which, sadly, swayed the education writer. In this case, power is more clearly the issue (rather than free speech), with the grandmother challenging societal authority as vested in the role of teacher. We are asking our teachers to teach ten-year-old children topics we have not figured out how to talk about as a society. And we are asking them to do so from a vulnerable position: social issues will be vented on them, and we don't stand behind them. Here's a link to an article containing further links, the first to an article about the situation that appeared in the local paper, and the third to a further article that includes a comment by me, writing as "JaninAtlanta," although what I've written here today represents my latest thinking: https://heatst.com/culture-wars/teach... Here's one further link, to the article containing the whole letter from the outside expert: http://getschooled.blog.myajc.com/201... Of course, my thoughts in the review and in this addendum are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to who should be allowed to write or say what and to whom. Addendum, July 24, 2018 Here is a more nuanced discussion than I was able to give. It's not just whether the book was reality- or fantasy-based but whether its author is upfront about the difference. Ruth Franklin in the July 23, 2018, issue of The New Yorker, on the work of Jane Yolen (and others): "How Should Children's Books Deal with the Holocaust?" https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...

  24. 4 out of 5

    B the BookAddict

    When his father is promoted to Commandant in the German army and his family is transferred from their comfy home in Berlin to a strange place called Out-With, nine year-old Bruno has no idea of the true nature of his new surroundings. Indeed, he is also unaware of the horrors being perpetrated at the command of the German leader, the Fury, who visits the family one evening. He is unimpressed by the small man with his tiny ineffectual moustache. The dreaded concentration camp as seen through Bruno When his father is promoted to Commandant in the German army and his family is transferred from their comfy home in Berlin to a strange place called Out-With, nine year-old Bruno has no idea of the true nature of his new surroundings. Indeed, he is also unaware of the horrors being perpetrated at the command of the German leader, the Fury, who visits the family one evening. He is unimpressed by the small man with his tiny ineffectual moustache. The dreaded concentration camp as seen through Bruno’s eyes is simply a place of many, many long huts and the people who wear an odd sort of striped pyjamas. Starved for company, Bruno’s explorations lead him to meet a new friend, Shmuel, a boy his own age who, for reasons Bruno cannot understand, looks like a small sad bony caricature of a normal boy. Bruno’s innocence and his friendship with Shmuel will ultimately have catastrophic results on his life and that of his family’s. Written as seen through young Bruno’s eyes, the book perhaps lacks the visual punch that the movie delivers but this is still a worthwhile and sadly heartbreaking novel. John Boyne cleverly approaches the spectre of Auschwitz and the internment of the Jews from a totally new perspective. A solid thought-provoking novel from one of the best Irish writers. 4★ My advice would be to read the book before watching the movie.

  25. 5 out of 5

    jv poore

    I added this to my To-Read list when a couple of students requested it, then Boy began to read it. Whenever he put it down, I picked it up because Buno is the perfect narrator to pull any reader right in. It's impossible not to adore him in his blissful ignorance. Part of me wished he could live in his bubble forever, while another part wanted to explain exactly what was going down. No part of me properly anticipated how the story would end.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Monica Edinger said: ** spoiler alert ** I don't see the point of this book at all. Doesn't work as an allegory, a fable, or anything else. The boy (both boys, for that matter) are naive beyond belief. The German boy's misuse of language is completely not credible. Want to give a kid a book on this topic? Anne Frank. I added: Completely agree, Monica. What I find so distressing is how many educators are making this part of the curriculum. They think it is a great and oh-so-moving book and are wor Monica Edinger said: ** spoiler alert ** I don't see the point of this book at all. Doesn't work as an allegory, a fable, or anything else. The boy (both boys, for that matter) are naive beyond belief. The German boy's misuse of language is completely not credible. Want to give a kid a book on this topic? Anne Frank. I added: Completely agree, Monica. What I find so distressing is how many educators are making this part of the curriculum. They think it is a great and oh-so-moving book and are working hard to convince kids of the same.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I've had this book on my To-Read list for a long time, since I really enjoy reading books of this kind. I haven't seen the movie, and I really had no idea what to expect from this one. That being said, I wish I could have liked it more than I did. This story is told in 3rd person limited, from the perspective of a 9 year old boy. Bruno, our main character, is moved unexpectedly from his large home with 5 floors (if you count the basement and the little room with the high window at the top) in Be I've had this book on my To-Read list for a long time, since I really enjoy reading books of this kind. I haven't seen the movie, and I really had no idea what to expect from this one. That being said, I wish I could have liked it more than I did. This story is told in 3rd person limited, from the perspective of a 9 year old boy. Bruno, our main character, is moved unexpectedly from his large home with 5 floors (if you count the basement and the little room with the high window at the top) in Berlin to Out-With, where the house is only 3 floors (if you count the basement) where he's bored, has no friends, nowhere to explore, and nothing to do except look at the people behind the fence wearing the striped pajamas. Bruno doesn't know who the people behind the fence are, or why they are there, or... well, anything. And it just wasn't believable to me that he should be so obliviously naive, which is one of the major issues that I had with this book, and a big part of why I found it so disappointing in the end. I have a few reasons for not believing in Bruno's "innocence". First, Bruno was born in Berlin in 1934, well into the Nazi party's regime. I cannot find it in myself to believe that Bruno could have lived 9 years in this environment of anti-Semitism and have never even heard of a Jew before. This kid went to public school, and hung around other boys both his age and older. Bruno's own father is in the Nazi military, had "The Fury" to his house for dinner, and was personally given orders by "The Fury". I don't believe that the term "Jew" was never, not once, used in Bruno's presence, by someone at school, or on the street (which is so busy that you could be pushed from pillar to post, specifically), or in his own household. People who hate, especially in an environment where that hatred is not only tolerated but encouraged and treated as "right", generally hate vociferously. It's not something we're born with, it's something we must be taught. That's how racism works. So it doesn't make sense to me that someone who obviously believes that Jews are inferior, who feels that Germans have been wronged by the Jews, who feels that Jews should be punished, and that those who disagree are cowards at best and traitors at worst, as Bruno's father clearly seems to believe, would fail to delineate the "us" from the "them" to his son. And Bruno is not stupid, though he is rather self-centered, and sees everything around him in terms of his own life experiences. But he notices things, even if he doesn't understand them or their significance. And we see in the course of the story that when he's curious enough about something, he'll ask for information about it, even if he doesn't really learn the right info, since usually his equally self-centered and ignorant sister is providing the answers. But still, it just doesn't work for me that he should be portrayed as such an innocent blank slate. I grew up in an area where racism was very common, but thankfully my mom taught me differently - and started doing so early, by which I mean around the time I could talk. Very young children mimic, and at some point every child will have heard something they shouldn't have and then repeated it. It's inevitable. Young children also ask a bajillion embarrassing questions. "Mommy, why is that lady's skin so dark?" "Mommy, why is that man so fat?" "Mommy, why does that man get a yellow star? I want a star!" Just ask Louis CK about the Why Game. I don't have kids, but even I know that it's never ending. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Over and over and over... Any of these kinds of things would have been perfect times for Nazi Dad to say, "Well, little Bruno, that man gets a star because he's a Jew, and we're rounding him, his family, and everyone like him up so that we can cleanse the earth of their filth." But he didn't, apparently, which begs the question: Why not? Nazis were in power, and they even had programs specifically designed for indoctrinating kids. But little Bruno was kept ignorant of the attitudes of the period. Because if he hadn't been, then this story wouldn't be possible: Bruno wouldn't have been that innocent, naive, oblivious blank slate he had to be. And that's a huge plot hole for me, and a big disappointment. Moving along to the writing itself, I have to say that, again, it was something of a disappointment. Well, the writing wasn't terrible, but some of the techniques used within it were irritating as hell. Like this line: "The rope was easy enough to find as there were bales of it in the basement of the house and it didn't take long to do something extremely dangerous and find a sharp knife and cut as many lengths of it as he thought he might need." First, why does the narrator feel the need to specify that knives are dangerous? Because Bruno is 9? Secondly, not only is it a run-on sentence, but what exactly is "extremely dangerous"? Finding the sharp knife, or using it? Third, why even mention the tool used at all? Why not just say "The rope was easy enough to find as there were bales of it in the basement of the house and it didn't take long to cut as many lengths of it as he thought he might need." It feels very much as if the narrator was talking down to the reader, and trying to protect them perhaps? I'm not a huge fan of that. Let readers think for themselves. Another two examples of this protection thing: 1) The narrator has a bad habit of editing out the terms the Nazis used to describe Jews. "'Hey, you!' he shouted, then adding a word that Bruno did not understand. 'Come over here, you--' He said the word again, and something about the harsh sound of it made Bruno look away and feel ashamed to be part of this at all." Bruno may not know the term, but why edit it? Let's look at Harry Potter for a second. When Hermione is first called a Mudblood by Draco Malfoy, it's not edited out, despite Harry not knowing the term. Instead, he picks up from context that it's derogatory and ugly, and we, as the reader, do the same. That's the proper way to communicate to readers, and to trust them to understand and be shocked by the term and its intent. 2) The narrator cuts away from anything resembling violent action. In a scene where a Jewish waiter spills wine on a Nazi soldier, we're treated to this: "What happened then was both unexpected and extremely unpleasant. [Nazi] grew very angry with [Jew] and no one [...] stepped in to stop him doing what he did next, even though none of them could watch." I edited out names, but regarding the action in that scene, that's it. Of course, we can imagine what happened. Of course, we know how brutal Nazis, and people in general, can be. But then at the end of the story, we're left with these lines: "Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age." Nice. Some reverse psychology there. Tell us nothing like that could happen now, because we're all so tolerant and peaceful. The object is that we start questioning whether it could happen, or even whether it could be happening now. Subtle. Except again it's a fail, because we learn nothing at all from this book. What's the point? "Pay attention"? To what? If Boyne is not even willing to call out the behavior we're supposed to think is so bad, not willing to show people how needlessly cruel and brutal and inhumanly awful people have been to others, what the hell is stopping us from being way that now? We wouldn't recognize it if we saw it. We don't learn anything by promoting ignorance and whitewashing the past. Bruno may not have understood what was happening around him, but a skilled writer takes that character's lack of understanding and shows the reader the truth. Boyne tried his hand at this, and succeeded in a small way, in that the reader understood more of what the Jews were going through than Bruno did, but too much was avoided in the guise of protecting the reader, and overall, it failed. Bruno never learned anything. He never grew as a character. He was as self-centered at the end as he was in the beginning. Disappointing. This book could have been so amazingly powerful by showing the true horror of Auschwitz through the eyes of a child. But it didn't. It shied away from everything that would have meant something. And that's the biggest disappointment of all.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy | shoutame

    A heart-breaking and tragic historical fiction set during World War II. We follow the story of a nine year old boy named Bruno. Bruno loves living in his wonderful house in Berlin but he is soon told that his family need to move to a new house due to his Father's job. Once at the new house Bruno quickly decides they were much better off living in Berlin - in Berlin they didn't have large groups of people in striped pyjamas spoiling their views from the window. He is told that on no account must h A heart-breaking and tragic historical fiction set during World War II. We follow the story of a nine year old boy named Bruno. Bruno loves living in his wonderful house in Berlin but he is soon told that his family need to move to a new house due to his Father's job. Once at the new house Bruno quickly decides they were much better off living in Berlin - in Berlin they didn't have large groups of people in striped pyjamas spoiling their views from the window. He is told that on no account must he go near the fence that separates his families garden from the dusty, baron land where the pyjama'd people live. But don't children often have a tendency to disobey their parents demands? Soon Bruno makes a friend, a boy who lives just over the fence. What is happening to the people in the striped pyjamas? What will become of Bruno when his family discover his secret friend beyond the fence? I really loved the subtle intensity of this book. Due to the fact that Bruno is a child there are a lot of things that he doesn't understand about his Father and the place that they have moved to. He believes he is living in a place named 'out-with' - I'm sure you can now easily guess where his family have taken up residence. The horror and tragedy of this place seen through innocent eyes is done fantastically - a real tear-jerker.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Antonio

    No sé si debería hacer una reseña de este libro porque el editor específicamente decidió no hacerlo para no revelar nada sobre la historia… Supongo que podría tratar de revelar lo menos posible, tratando de imitar un poco el estilo del autor Bruno es un niño de 9 años cuya vida está a punto de cambiar, verán el siempre ha vivido en una hermosa casa de 5 plantas en Berlín con Padre, Madre y su hermana la tonta de remate, pero debido a una orden del “Furias” (el jefe de Padre) el, con toda su famil No sé si debería hacer una reseña de este libro porque el editor específicamente decidió no hacerlo para no revelar nada sobre la historia… Supongo que podría tratar de revelar lo menos posible, tratando de imitar un poco el estilo del autor Bruno es un niño de 9 años cuya vida está a punto de cambiar, verán el siempre ha vivido en una hermosa casa de 5 plantas en Berlín con Padre, Madre y su hermana la tonta de remate, pero debido a una orden del “Furias” (el jefe de Padre) el, con toda su familia, deberán dejar la hermosa casa, se despedirá de sus tres amigos para toda la vida, y de los abuelos, para ir a vivir en una casa horrenda de dos plantas, muy lejos de Berlin. Aunque Bruno ha dicho una y otra vez a Madre y también a Padre que no le gusta la idea de mudarse, estos, como adultos que son no le hacen caso, así Bruno llega a esta horrenda casa que esta frente a una cerca muy, muy larga que a la vista parece interminable, y no solo es larga también es alta, y rematada con púas en su punta, pero lo más curiosos es que, al otro lado de la cerca hay muchas personas que se visten de pijamas de rayas, con una gorra a juego también a rayas y que siempre andan descalzos. Al otro lado de la cerca no solo hay adultos también muchos niños que parecieran estuvieran jugando con los soldados…. Que injusticia ¿porque todos ellos pueden jugar y estar juntos? y Bruno no tiene a nadie para jugar, solo a su hermana la tonta de remate. En un día muy aburrido Bruno decide explorar la cerca y después de caminar más de una hora, ve que al otro lado de la cerca hay a un niño muy flaco, y demacrado con la piel de un color enfermizo, y los pies muy sucios, Bruno, aun cuando no debería hablar con extraños, decide hablar con él. El niño se llama Shmuel, que nombre tan extraño dice Bruno, Shmuel le dice que de su lado hay muchos Shmuels, los niños (siendo niños al fin) entablan amistad rápidamente, y Bruno queda con Shmuel de visitarlo de ahora en adelante todos los días venideros. Voy a cortarla por acá y les diré lo que pienso del libro Lo bueno: Un estilo de narración maravilloso, que toma como narrador a un niño y nos hace ver el mundo como él lo ve, donde su inocencia será como una burbuja que lo separara de la realidad. Lo malo: la narración es muy subjetiva, porque como ya lo dije Bruno es un niño, no se explican muchas cosas, si no se tienen conocimientos de la segunda guerra mundial, quizás no se entienda la historia. En resumen, El niño con el pijama de rayas es una historia muy bonita, e inocente, pero también muy triste, pase por varios momentos en los que quería entrar en el libro y golpear a cierto soldado, abrazar a Shmuel y explicarle a Bruno todo lo que está pasando a su alrededor, ¡y ese final! no puedo decir que no me lo esperaba, pero no por ello dejo de conmoverme. P.D. Personalmente no pienso que este libro sea para niños, lo recomendaría (concordando con el editor) a mayores de 13 años

  30. 5 out of 5

    Drewthereader19

    Okay..... Guys! This became one of my favorite books of the year. I loved bruno from the beginning! The author did such a great job because every scene I had read was like a movie! Bruno was an amazing book character! I love his sister Gretel. His whole family was amazing. Bruno ask a lot of question in this book. (Which sounds a lot like me). But.... WELL DONE JOHN BOYNE!!!!!! U made me sad!!!!(:

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