Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne



The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is the moving story of Bruno a nine year old German boy whose father becomes the commandant of Out-With, his innocent pronunciation of that dreadful place that most of you reading this will have heard of 'Auschwitz'.   Bruno has been protected by his parents from the disturbing truth of his father's army career and is told nothing about why his family leaves Berlin. I found this naivety at times both surprising and annoying especially in the light of the disturbing events that take place. An intelligent young boy would surely have asked questions and been more aware. Then I suppose the horrific ending could not have been written with such an impact, if Bruno had not appeared as such an innocent.

View of the electrified wire fence and barracks in January 1945

Of course 'Auschwitz' was in the middle of nowhere and having left all his friends behind in Berlin and with only an older sister for company it was no surprise, even though forbidden to do so, that Bruno went off exploring his strange new environment.  He is of course delighted to come across Shmuel, the boy in the striped pyjamas that he befriends on the other side of the wire. In all innocence he is completely taken in by the tales of life in the POW camp although he is absolutely no idea that this is what it is and that the people there are apparently enemies!

A sad and disturbing chapter in modern world history seen through the eyes of a child.  A dreadful truth this short and sharp story will certainly bring the reality of 'Auschwitz' and other such places home to you.

It is a novel that I cannot say you will enjoy but it is a well written story and worth reading.This has now been made into a film but I am not sure if I am interested in seeing it. My own visual images were enough to find it disturbing without adding to them.  Some of you may be interested in this publicity video for the movie though. It gives an insight into the background making of the film.

I must admit prior to reading this I had never heard of John Boyne so I have done some background research.  He has written a number of other novels that were published but did not reach the readership of  'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas' which are due to be reprinted by his publisher. If you are interested more information can be found at his own website. 

 Wikipedia - John Boyne Irish novelist born in Dublin 30th April 1971.

 John Boyne - Website

Another title ticked off from the three unread titles on the Lovereading - Books of the Decade list that I wrote about here in May.  I have now read eight out of the ten and the last title is already waiting on my TBR bookshelves.


  1. I did watch the movie and it was pretty good and am looking forward to reading the book. The book is always better than the movie!
    Natalie :0)

  2. Thats funny, Ive just reviewed this for my blog, I agree with you pretty much but I did see the film and prefered it slightly.

    Ive also just finished reading the shadow of the wind so Im off to read your reivew.

  3. We saw the movie and, without knowing what it was really about, took our two sons who were 9 and 12 at the time. The movie was very powerful, but the ending was too devasting for my sons, especially the younger one. When the lights came up in the theater we all just sat there crying. I felt pretty bad about putting the boys through that, but a wonderful discussion came out of it in the car on the way home. I don't know how or when we would have spent so much serious thought and conversation on the topic otherwise.
    But, I don't have the strength in me to read the book and go through it all again.

  4. Natalie - I agree books are always better than the film. However I always prefer to read the book first so that I can build my own images.

    Jessica - What a coincidence! I shall go and read your thoughts shortly.

    Saretta - Oh boy that was tough without warning but once over the shock a great way to have a discussion with them about the holocaust. I do not blame you at all for not wanting to read the book now with all those strong images from the film already there in your mind.

    Thankyou for visiting and commenting ladies as it makes it all worthwhile :)

  5. "Brilliant Book !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! everyone one should read this.. seen the film.. and OMG !!!!! <3"

  6. I haven't read the book, but I have seen the film and the ending is a shocker even if I did see it coming. It's a great film and even more poignant since I lived in Poland about an hour from Auschwitz (which actually is on the outskirts of a village).

  7. Oh, and thanks for the review! :)

  8. Talli - Thanks for commenting. I really had no idea that Auschwitz was so close to civilisation, everything I have read makes it seem isolated even this novel made feel that was the case.
    I can imagine that having lived in Poland made it particularly poignant for you.

  9. Thanks for visiting me and leaving such a nice comment! I saw this movie and I loved it! So strong and touching!
    Have a nice Summer week!

  10. I am very pleased to have found your blog, just sorry it has taken me so long to do so!
    Thankyou for stopping by here and commenting, you are the only person I know of who has been able to say they loved the film, most have found it difficult to stomach. You having said this has made me think I should make the effort to see the film after all.

  11. I just finished this one and had a similar reaction to you. It was well written, but I was so frustrated with Bruno!

  12. Avid reader, so was I, found it very difficult to believe how naive he seemed!

  13. Just finished reading this book and read your review. Totally agree with you - cannot say that readers would enjoy reading it but definitely a very well written book. Found it so enaging that finished it in one sitting.

  14. Thankyou for calling by and commenting, good to see you here Vibha. It was written from an interesting viewpoint, do you want to see the film now? I am not sure if I do.

  15. Hi Lindy,
    I quite agree with the view that if Bruno had not been projected as being so innocence.. the ending wouldnot have had the same effect.. I wont want to see the film now as I know what is going to happen in the end. I shudder at the thought of it..


  16. Jyoti@ Welcome and thankyou for taking the time to comment. You are quite right about his innocence, a very disturbing story indeed. I am still undecided about viewing the film.

  17. I just saw this on your side bar and came over to see what you thought. I've seen the film twice. It's excellent. But I didn't read the book because it had such an extrodinary mix of reviews: some loved it but many HATED it. They said it was totally unrealistic. I think I would like to read it though. I think the unrealisticness (surely not the right word!!) was necessary to allow for the story to unfold.


  18. Sarah@ It is worth reading but disturbing, but then you already know that I guess if you have seen the film twice!


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