Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

I was walking to work this week, and it just occurred to me that I should read The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas. I had seen the film quite a while back and I also have books waiting to get their turn, but I got this book anyway – as an audible. I started it in the morning and finished it in the evening. Last night in fact.

WW2 stories I am familiar with, as they were something I was keen on as a gymnasium pupil. I do not know why. I was interested in history at school and I had pen pals both in Germany and Israel (and also in UK and USA).  So holocaust, concentration camps, full trains and racial domination were not new things to me when I started the book.

Initially I thought that The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas was a book for adults. It is, however,  also marketed as a children’s book. After having heard what the publisher and author say, I still consider that the book is more suited to adults. Yes, it does mostly deal with the thoughts from Bruno’s perspective and he is 9 years old. Shmuel, the Jewish boy, is also 9. The child’s perspective is fresh and can be appreciated by adults. But reader should also keep in mind that children think differently and on the other hand even adults understand many things only in retrospective. So you need to allow yourself to go with the story.

The book tells the fictional story of Bruno. It is a novel and a fable. It is not a factual historical book. John Boyne has an understanding of the situation, but he changes a few things for the sake of the story. He considers the integrity of the emotions to be important.

The whole idea of writing the book started with an idea of a fence and two boys on either side. John Boyne wishes also to raise awareness that other fences have been there since 1945. John Boyne wrote the book in a very short time and tells that that is also how many readers like to read it. I certainly wished to complete the book quickly.

The story is harrowing. You know it to be so. Despite some sentimentalism, I value having read it. The language flows naturally and easily. There is even some nice repetition in it. Michael Maloney also reads it in an engaging way. I do recommend the book to all but young children under the age of 13.

STARS: 5/5

AUTHOR: JOHN BOYNE

PUBLISHER: Random House AudioBooks 2016

READER: Michael Maloney

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for this review. I’ve never read the book but I did see the film and it was so sad and heartbreaking. I do like the lesson inherent in both the film and the book…..yes there are fences and walls, and there are people on either side And they both have their stories to tell, and the unintended consequences of fences and walls can have a larger effect. I like how you also specify that it’s written from a child’s point of view because sometimes that does have an effect on how adults read books. Great review as always.

    Liked by 1 person

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