Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2411
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Nine-year-old Bruno is growing up in Berlin during World War II. After Bruno’s father is promoted to a Commandant, he and his family move to ‘Out-With’ on the orders of ‘The Fury’.

‘Out-With’ is Bruno’s misinterpretation of the Auschwitz concentration camp and ‘The Fury’ was his misinterpretation of the word Führer, which means leader or guide in German and was commonly associated with Adolf Hitler.

Young Bruno is quite naive about what is going on around him. For example, he presumes that ‘Heil Hitler’ is a another way of saying ‘Well, goodbye for now, have a pleasant afternoon.’

Bruno is not happy about leaving his friends and his comfortable home for a house in the middle of nowhere where there is nothing to do and no one to play with. From his bedroom window he can see a camp behind a wire fence.

One day Bruno explores the fence line and meets a Jewish boy named Shmuel, who shares the same birthday as him. Shmuel is dressed in striped pyjamas and a cap. All the people on Shmuel’s side wear pyjamas.

Bruno and Shmuel develop a friendship. An innocent Bruno does not understand what is going on Shmuel’s side of the fence and Shmuel cannot understand how the Commandant can have such a nice son.

There has been some criticism against the plausibility of the story, such as there were no nine year-old boys at Auschwitz. Some argue that the narrative trivialises the conditions of the death camp and the Holocaust.

A film adaptation directed by Mark Herman and starring Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend, David Hayman and Asa Butterfield was released in 2008.
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