BOOK REVIEW: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Publication: October 23, 2007
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 215

SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

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 to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people 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 from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.


I had heard of this book but really didn’t have it on my radar.  Why I am not really sure.  The older I have gotten the more I have gotten away from books that at some point in the book will make me ugly cry.  I don’t read dog books like Marley & Me for that exact reason.  Yes, that seems petty but I have a tendency to start crying and can’t really stop it’s like I have broken the flood gates and it all comes pouring out at one time.  So when this book was voted on and chosen as the winner for this month’s book club book I did slightly cringe but was looking forward to reading it.

Bruno’s life is being turned upside down.  He comes home one day to find that all of his stuff is packed up and they are moving out of Berlin to a place called “Out-With”.  He doesn’t know what this place is.  His father is someone important to The “Fury”.  One day when he is walking the fence he befriends someone, Shumel, on the inside of the fenced-in area and they become best friends.  This book was pretty moving.  I struggled with my rating for quite a while because while I really really loved the book I had a hard time with the character of Bruno.  He seemed so out of touch with what was going on right next door to him.  Him insisting that Auschwitz was called “Out-With” even though he was corrected on multiple occasions. He called the Fuhrer the Fury and again was corrected but still thought he was right.  He just seemed very out of touch despite his father being a Commandant in the Third Riech.  

I thought, other than Bruno’s personality, the book was very good.  His friendship with Shmuel was wonderful.  He did seem to compare his life with Shmuel on multiple occasions and it seemed like Shmuel was aware of that and just glossed over it.  Bruno sneaking food to him was wonderful.  You almost wonder if he helped to keep his new best friend alive while he was in the camp.  I can only imagine what would have happened to Bruno had his father found out about that.  I know that this book has been made into a movie, I may watch it and see how it compares but not sure I can watch the shock ending that left me with my jaw hanging open.  All in all, I am very glad that I read this book however much Bruno really irritated the heck out of me.  It should be required reading for people to see the war from a child’s perspective. 


Pick up your copy of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. Check out more from author John Boyne on his website HERE.

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