This is a wonderful book that we all need to read. Very sensitive characters who are seen through the eyes of a very naive 9 year old. The "fable" sweeps us along toward its surprising conclusion and leaves us thinking about the characters long after. Highly recommend
This is truly a story not to be missed, an important fable set in Holocaust-era Germany that reminds readers of the evils committed in the name of Adolph Hitler's deranged ideals. Uniquely told from the point of view of the child of a top-ranking Nazi, this simply-written fiction tale tells universal truths and could be a great way to introduce this most dark of subjects to age-appropriate youngsters, with parental guidance along the way, of course. A moving, yet ultimately tragic and disturbing, story that contains the essence of the Holocaust in an intimate way, 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas' is required reading.
The book was engrossing, emotional and ended in a way I never saw coming.
A book not to miss.
See phone pic re: this may have been based on an actual event. Johann Schwarzhuber, a concentration camp commandant, spent time at Dachau, Theresienstadt and at Auschwitz Birkenau, before moving on to the women's camp, Ravensbruck. Reportedly, he had two boys who liked to run around the camp at Auschwitz, but when one of them disappeared one day, the commandant was terrified that he had been culled and taken to the gas chamber with a group of other prisoners, undetected. After a frantic search, the boy was reportedly found, but from that day forward the boys wore signs around their necks that read "SS Schwarzhuber's Son."
This is one of those books I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I haven't read until now, despite its immense popularity. On the surface, it's a rather simplistic story, and legitimately light on historical accuracy, so much so that several reviewers have noted that it's almost insulting, but there are some deep themes which deserve adequate treatment. I think having the story in a different setting and locale or even leaving the location ambiguous might have been preferable, but that wouldn't have been as emotionally impactful. In short, it's difficult (for adults) to get beyond the glaring historical inaccuracies, which simply make the story unbelievable, and, yes, perhaps a little insulting.
On the surface, it tells the story of Bruno, a highly sheltered upper-middle-class boy, who lives in Berlin with his family and their bevy of servants, so the title is even a bit of a misnomer. Nor is it really "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas's" story. It's more the account of the son of an army officer, who is transferred to become a commandant at Auschwitz, a rather problematic premise in and of itself. His precocious, bored son, looking for anything to do in the isolated location where there are no other children to play with, and vexed by just about everything, especially his taskmaster tutor who bores him even more with lessons in geography and history, wanders out of the family's garden toward the Camp one day, where he meets a boy his age, sitting by the wire fence. Bruno could see "children" from a distance, from his bedroom window... which likewise isn't really believable. All children were immediately murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In an attempt to parallel the young lives, the author has them born on the same day: April 15. That's just the tip of the iceberg of the somewhat ridiculous premises the reader must accept to get into the story at all.
I get that it's young adult fiction, but it could have been so much more. I read voluminous amounts about the Holocaust - have all my life - and it could have been so much more impactful with some genuine accuracy. The characters, especially the title character, are stereotypical and one dimensional, so there is very little education for readers about what actually occurred in the death camps scattered all over the Third Reich and beyond, which seems a primary goal of the novel: to recount the experiences of two young boys, from different worlds, who are really not so different, but who, through an unfortunate twist, end up sharing the same fate. That message is powerful, but is lost in all the generalizations.
Simply put, the book just doesn't tell it like it is (was), which is frustrating. As other reviewers noted, if a nine-year-old were offloaded from a cattle car at Auschwitz-Birkenau, there would have been only one fate for him, accomplished in less than three hours, typically, and it wasn't wandering around aimlessly, occasionally hiding by the wire perimeter fence (which was electrified with such high voltage, apparently, that even coming within FEET of it would have meant certain death). There are just too many glaring inaccuracies to make this story meaningful, which is unfortunate, because it had great potential.
Overall, it didn't make it onto my "books-I've-thrown-across-the-room" list, but I was rather disappointed in it. It was so hyped that I really expected more, even from a young adult novel. It isn't necessary to recount in graphic detail the atrocities of that period to children to make the story believable, but authenticity and accuracy are important, and a more highly-skilled author could have done so much more with the material than simply describing poor, skinny, dirty, ragged people in striped pajamas
Amazing. This is a book everyone needs to read.
This book is a bit slow in the beginning, but you will not regret finishing it. The innocence of the main character, Bruno, is powerful and inspiring. Boyne's writing style lets you create your own images of Bruno's life and how he sees it. 3.5/5 stars!
This book is truly amazing in its perspective and presentation. I think best enjoyed in audio version which includes the interview with the author. Definitely one of the top 5 books I have ever read, and only stumbled across because of a local book group. I am in the process of telling everyone I know to read it. Enjoy!