The boy in the striped pyjamas – Book Review


This story by John Boyne is based on one of the most tragic historical events. This book, written from the point of view of a nine year old boy will move you to tears. John Boyne, an Irish author published this book in 2006. A movie adaptation of the same name was released later in 2008. The title does not give away the plot of the story. Yes, it involves a boy wearing striped pyjamas but it is no ordinary boy.

During World War II, a nine year old boy named Bruno was living in Berlin with his parents and his elder sister. They lived lavishly in a huge mansion. After a visit from, as Bruno calls “The Fury”, his life suddenly turns in an unexpected way. All of a sudden, his family is moving out of their home to a far away country side. All Bruno is told is that his father got a promotion and has an important job away from the city. Leaving his three best friends and the comfortable life in Berlin was not at all acceptable for this boy who understood nothing of the importance of his father’s position.

Lonely and bored, Bruno starts to explore his surroundings and tries to find out about the strange people (all wearing the same uniform) he sees from his bedroom window. To his delight, he finds a small boy of his age opposite the fence made of barbed wires. Extremely slim and sad looking Shmuel is the boy in the striped pyjama. They become friends instantly and Bruno starts to visit Shmuel frequently. The things, Bruno discovers later from his new friend is disturbing and very confusing for a nine year old. They become best of friends unaware of the horrific fate which awaits them.   

Along the story we come to know that Bruno’s father is a military official and “The Fury” is none other than the Fuhrer i.e Adolf Hitler. The point of the story is confusing to the reader as even midway it is difficult to understand where the story is going. It can be a bit dull at the beginning and the constant whining of Bruno does nothing to help. On the positive side it constantly makes you wonder how the story ends. John Boyne portrays a side of the Jewish holocaust which many critics termed as “implausible” and “erroneous”.

This book is not unnecessarily lengthy which makes it an easy read and is perfect for young readers. Although written in simple English it expresses a story way beyond simple. The ending is tragic and unexpected which makes this book even more appealing to a reader.

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I am an introvert and very weak at socializing. Once someone gets to know me I think I can be fun. It is easier for me to express myself through writing as I often find it difficult to converse with people who are not the closest to me. I have always loved reading. Of course not the "finish an entire book in two days" type but at the pace which suits my schedule best.