The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable by John Boyne

by HRevvdon@evpl on Friday, January 23 2009, 9:56pm. Viewed 1,238 times.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable (2006) by John Boyne is a small book with incredible impact.

I have never read a book about the Holocaust from a small boy's point of view let alone the son of the commandant of Aushwicz.  I was blown away. 

Bruno and his family move to a small town in Poland from Berlin when his father is transferred because "the Fury has big plans" for Bruno's father.  Bruno at nine is terribly naive, but this well written story allows you to understand that as a sheltered child of an officer - he would not know or understand what is really going on.  Bruno has no friends where he now lives.  Over a long time (in a child's time) he becomes friends with a small boy that wears striped pajamas.  Bruno does not understand why he cannot go on the other side of the fence to play with his new friend and the hundreds of children he knows are over there.

I understand that there has been a lot of negative critical comments about the subject manner and Bruno's being so naive.  To me that is part of the message of the book - that in the midst of horror a child's innocence brings hope and that bigotry is learned and not innate.

Comments (2)

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on Saturday, January 24 2009, 8:26am

Yes, what a powerful story.  Every adult should read this, even though it is in the young adult section.

This is one of those stories where I caught my breath at the end.  I, too, being naive.

on Saturday, January 24 2009, 11:08am

Have you read The Man From the Other Side by Uri Orlev?  It is based on a true account told to the author (who was himself a childhood survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and Bergen-Bergen) about a Polish boy who grew up surrounded by anti-semetic feelings. Marek, as he is called, discovers that his anti-semitic stepfather smuggles goods (mostly food) into the ghetto for money, and babies out for free. When Merek helps rob a Jew, his  mother tells him that his own father was secretly Jewish, and he begins to rethink things. Characters in this story are very 3-dimensional. I got a sense of the pervasiveness of anti-semitic feelings and how easy it might be for a child to soak up that feeling himself. Scary.  It's located in the YA section, as is Boy in the Striped Pajamas.