Written by John Boyne, 2006
My Rating: 4.5/5
“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is a novel by John Boyne set during the second World War. Although most books surrounding this issue are written from the perspective of adolescents or adults adapting to their new life and comparing it to the older Germany, this novel is different in that the speaker is Bruno, a nine-year-old boy whose father is part of the Nazi party. The plot starts off with a change in setting as Bruno and his family move from their home in Berlin to Poland, right outside the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz. The story is appealing not only because of the unusual choice of perspective but also in the tone and style in which it’s written. With subtleties such as mispronunciation of simple German words and more blatantly obvious things like Bruno’s inability to understand why they had moved to the strange camp outside his window, and the strange, stern men his father keeps hosting for dinner. Despite the violence and hatred associated with most books written about the second World War, Boyne weaves his words and dialogue with the innocence of childhood and the strength of friendship, providing a lens which is both heartbreaking and enlightening. This book is ideally read with a hot drink and a soft fabric of some sort for comfort. I recommend keeping a box of Kleenex nearby as well, for the unavoidable tears and sniffles as Bruno navigates through the rough terrains of the Holocaust, trying to identify his family’s role in a devastated, conflicted world.