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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne
Official Site | Goodreads | Twitter 

Format: Kindle, 218 pgs.
Published: Dec. 18th 2008 by David Fickling Books (FP 2004)
Genre: Childrens/Teen, Historical Fiction (Holocaust)

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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 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." -goodreads


“What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?” (pg. 100)

A story of pure innocence and the power of seeing the world through a child’s eyes, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a simple study of the injustice of WWII. This is a moving and powerful tale that takes a subject such as this large war and takes it down to an elementary scale that our youth can better understand. I give this five stars because, had I read this in my youth, I would easily want to read it again. Even at the age I’m at now, I wouldn’t mind reading it again to look more for the symbology and allusions.

“‘The thing about exploring is that you have to know whether the thing you’ve found is worth finding. Some things are just sitting there, minding their own business, waiting to be discovered. Like America.  And other things are probably better off left alone.” (pg. 114)

I initially picked up this book, although it’s been on my to-read list for some time, because my youngest brother had to read it for school. I read it to help him, but really, although he’s only a few chapters in so far, he’s helped me. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how Bruno was mispronouncing “Out-With” and didn’t know what he was supposed to be referencing; my youngest brother, through a discussion in his class, told me that it’s supposed to be a concentration camp called Auschwitz, one of the largest concentration camp networks that killed an estimated 1.1 million people. After this realization I started thinking of this book in a different way. For example, I don’t remember Hitler being called “The Fury,” as well as I couldn’t make out whatever derogatory name the soldiers were calling the jews in the book. The Fury is Bruno’s misunderstanding of “Der Fürer” and if I did re-read this book I must keep in mind to read it through the eyes and understanding of a child. I have to say, on that point, that a nine-year-old (today, at least) would be a little more aware of their surroundings and what’s really going on, based off of whatever they overhear from adults.

“‘We should never have let the Fury come to dinner,’ she said. ‘Some people and their determination to get ahead.’” (pg. 40)

This book is a great, simple introduction to children, towards the study of the Holocaust and the travesties of the second world war. Bruno shows how he relates to people, not by basing them off their religion, looks or creed, but by their attitude, persona and treatment of others. He found a friend in Shmuel and together they defied and rose above what even grown adults could not do.

“‘You’re my best friend, Shmuel,’ he said. ‘My best friend for life.’” (pg. 213)

First Line: “One afternoon, when Bruno came home from school, he was surprised to find Maria, the family’s maid - who always kept her head bowed and never looked up from the carpet - standing in his bedroom...” (pg. 2)

Last Line: “Not in this day and age.” (pg. 215)


“‘Accept the situation in which you find yourself and everything will be so much easier.’” (pg. 53)

“‘When I was a child,’ Bruno said to himself, ‘I used to enjoy exploring. And that was in Berlin, where I knew everywhere and could find anything I wanted with a blindfold on. I’ve never really done any exploring here. Perhaps it’s time to start.’” (pg. 99)

“It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were all exactly the same really.” (pg. 204)

“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.” (pg. 216)

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