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Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

April 30, 2009


Bruno and his family lived in Berlin during World War II.  His father was an officer in the Army.  Bruno was a typical nine-year old – his life revolved around family, friends and school.   When he found Maria, his family’s maid, packing up his belongings one day, he discovered that his family was moving.   Bruno was very unhappy at  “Out-With” (as Bruno called it) at first.  His sister Gretel was three years older than him and they really didn’t get along that well, so he had no one to play with.  His father was working and his mother was distant.

From his bedroom window, Bruno could see Auschwitz concentration camp and all the people in it and couldn’t understand why they had to stay on their side of the fence and he had to stay on his.  He decided to go exploring one day and encountered a young Polish boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the fence who shares his birthday.  The boys struck up an unlikely friendship and met almost daily to talk.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is a great book that will really make you think and leave you teary-eyed and sad.  It’s about blind ambition and prejudices and how both can cloud our judgement and affect everyone around us.   I didn’t see the ending coming and it left me feeling shocked.  It’s written at a Young Adult level, but I’m not sure I would classify it as a Young Adult novel.  Some knowledge of Nazi Germany is required in order to truly understand the book.

43 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2009 6:30 am

    Another one that’s on my wish list.

  2. April 30, 2009 6:54 am

    I have this on my mp3 player, but I haven’t been in the mood to listen. I know it’s a powerful and emotional book. Nice review.

  3. April 30, 2009 7:25 am

    I have had this book on reserve at my local library since March 21 and I am still #30 in line!! With each great review I become more and more anxious to read it for myself.

  4. April 30, 2009 7:50 am

    This book was very powerful. It knocked me off my socks! Great review!

  5. April 30, 2009 7:57 am

    I think a lot of this book’s power is in its simplicity.

    I haven’t had any desire to see the movie though. For some reason, I can deal with the sadness in my head better than watching it on a screen.

  6. April 30, 2009 8:04 am

    I’d like to see this movie, I didn’t realize it was also a book, now they’re both on my list!

  7. April 30, 2009 8:06 am

    This is the kind of book that I would like to read, but I don’t because I think I’d have nightmares. (I know that I’ve had nightmares after reading other holocaust books.)

  8. April 30, 2009 8:08 am

    Someday, someday. . . 🙂


  9. April 30, 2009 8:27 am

    I think this came from an interesting perspective – one I had never read before. Very good book.

  10. April 30, 2009 8:35 am

    You know me well enough to know this sounds like one I’d love. I will add it to my list immediately.

  11. April 30, 2009 8:38 am

    I’d like to read this one. Sounds interesting.

  12. April 30, 2009 8:42 am

    I’d like to read this, too. It might even be a possibility for the next time my bookclub does a book and movie discussion.

  13. April 30, 2009 8:43 am

    I thought this was a powerful book. The story builds so quietly.

  14. April 30, 2009 9:46 am

    I really enjoyed this book Kathy. I remember when I finished it, I just sat there crying and pondering the ending. Definitely one that I will read again someday.

  15. April 30, 2009 9:48 am

    I was really impressed with this book when I read it last year and I have the movie sitting by my tv, but haven’t had a chance to watch it.

  16. April 30, 2009 10:17 am

    Great review Kathy. I am waiting for this to come in at the library so that I can read it. Sounds like a very emotional book.

    I always wanted to let you know that I have an award for you on my blog called You don’t say that you can pick up anytime.

  17. April 30, 2009 11:40 am

    I’ve been wanting to read this one. Bumping it up on my tbr now based on your review. Thanks!

  18. April 30, 2009 12:06 pm

    I listened to this one and thought the audio version was very well done.

  19. April 30, 2009 12:24 pm

    I don’ t have this book. I have been wanting to buy it.. I think I will at lunch today. Thank you for the review.

  20. April 30, 2009 12:24 pm

    I like that this story is told from a nine-year-old’s perspective. They tend to see life in basic and simple terms. I’m sure that adds to the power of the story.
    Good review.

  21. April 30, 2009 12:28 pm

    I like reading books on Nazi Germany. Sad I know. This book seems exactly my type. Thanks for the review.

  22. April 30, 2009 12:34 pm

    It still amazes me that I haven’t read this book yet! Also, the movie never came here, so I didn’t get to see that either!

  23. April 30, 2009 1:06 pm

    I just finished reading this too!! I can’t wait to read your review…but I need to get mine written up first. I loved this book, loved it. I will for sure have my boys read it when they are a little older.

  24. April 30, 2009 1:13 pm

    I think I just figured out why this book didn’t impact me the way it did others: the ending didn’t take me by surprise. I saw it coming from pages and pages away. In some ways this wasn’t a good Read-a-thon book, because once I did figure out where Boyne was going, I was impatient to be done with it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I did like the book and would recommend it–but I’m glad to have sorted out why other people are raving about it so much and I’m not!

  25. April 30, 2009 1:47 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, I did too. I also saw the movie and it was done really well but the slight differences made it feel a bit like another version of the story. Worth watching.

  26. redladysreadingroom permalink
    April 30, 2009 4:07 pm

    This sounds like an amazing book. Books about the holocaust are so important to read lest we forget this horrible tragedy. They can be so painful but inspiring to read. I like that this is told from the perspective of a young child. My son is 10 but I don’t think I would want him to read this kind of book yet. The Book Thief was also listed as YA but I would recommend it for older teens, high school age.

  27. stacybuckeye permalink
    April 30, 2009 4:10 pm

    I’ve seen this book everywhere lately and everyone seems shocked by the end! Great review 🙂

  28. April 30, 2009 5:00 pm

    I read and loved this. Great review.

  29. April 30, 2009 7:29 pm

    I’m glad you liked it, Kathy!

  30. April 30, 2009 10:05 pm

    I’m going to have to put this on my list for the WWII Challenge. It takes a talent to write thru the innocent eyes of a child.

  31. April 30, 2009 10:50 pm

    i’ve seen reviews of this book around and i really want to read it–and see if i can incorporate it into our school’s curriculum. i’ll have to check it out. thanks for a good review with a teaser ending.

  32. May 1, 2009 2:16 am

    I want to read this. I’m really curious about the twist at the end. Almost every review I’ve read has mentioned how shocking it was.

  33. May 1, 2009 11:42 am

    Honestly, Bruno completely annoyed me, to the point where I didn’t enjoy this all that much. He seemed a bit too old for the over-the-top naivete.

  34. May 1, 2009 1:08 pm

    I really need to get a copy of this book, I keep reading such wonderful reviews.

  35. May 1, 2009 10:51 pm

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book, and I can’t wait to read it. Nice review!

  36. May 2, 2009 12:30 am

    I’ve only seen the trailer for the movie (I haven’t read this or seen it either) and it nearly broke my heart so I probably won’t read this anytime soon.

  37. May 2, 2009 1:16 am

    I’m glad you liked this one. Thanks for the review.

  38. Bobbie Crawford-McCoy permalink
    May 2, 2009 2:16 am

    Thank you for such a great review, Kathy.
    I really want to read this book! It sounds fascinating. I heard about the film as well; it was released in 2008, and I would love to see the movie as well.
    I have read and reviewed several first-hand accounts of survivors from Auschwitz-Berkenhau and other Nazi Concentration Camps…they are very troubling, sickening and so very, very sad.
    I agree with you; I don’t think that this book should be marketed as a young adult novel either.

  39. May 2, 2009 9:47 pm

    Most that have read this book have recommended it. I walked by it in the library again the other day. One of these days I’ll pick it up when I have less on my plate. Thanks for the review.

  40. May 4, 2009 9:48 pm

    I really want to read this one for the WWII challenge. I saw the movie and cried. What a powerful story! Would it be okay to link to your review at War Through the Generations?


  41. May 7, 2009 1:33 pm

    Yet another WWII book…Hmmm….I am beginning to see a pattern…perhaps these books are calling to you for a reason? perhaps it is the WWII Reading Challenge sending you subliminal messages….

  42. May 14, 2009 12:11 am

    Have you watched the movie? One of the best movie adaptations from a book I’ve ever seen. It was fantastic.

  43. June 24, 2009 12:29 pm

    I posted a clip of your review on the challenge page:


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