Author: John Boyne
Published: September 12, 2006
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
This is one of those books that will rip your heart out and stomp on it . . . and what makes it different is that you don’t know your heart will be ripped out until it happens!!
However, before I even start talking about the book, I will say that this is one of those rare occasions that I suggest watching the movie before the book. Yes, there are differences, but I actually had a better experience reading the book since I knew a little more about what was going on. And to be fair, I gave John Boyne some grief last year when I read The Boy at the Top of the Mountain last year. But what he got wrong in that book, he didn’t in this one. Boyne has a knack for showing the other side of the story. He writes about the Holocaust from the perspective, not just of the Nazis involved, but of the children of those Nazis, affected by their parents’ actions.
Bruno shows such a purity and innocence that we have a hard time attributing to Germans during WW2. And where it seemed that passes were given in The Boy at the Top of the Mountain, and some explanation given in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, there seems to be far more consequences in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
The Holocaust is condemned very clearly by the ending of this book and any “justification” offered by any of the characters is therefore rendered void. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is such an emotional book and I think a new and different perspective on some very difficult subjects. I absolutely recommend this book for anybody 12 years old and older. I believe this book should be required reading at one point for every student in order to graduate high school. Emotional and poignant and insightful.
Author: John Boyne
Published: October 1, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.
Quickly, Pierrot is taken under Hitler’s wing, and is thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets and betrayal, from which he may never be able to escape.
I enjoyed reading this book … but there’s something about it that’s keeping me from saying that I loved it. Pierrot starts out as a kid you have hope for, but then as he grows, he turns into a monster! He even had good influences growing up from the ladies who ran the orphanage. But then, under the influence of Hitler, that sweet little boy dies and a hardened Nazi emerges. I will admit that it’s a very realistic view of how Hitler was able to convince an entire nation to follow him. It just has an air of sugar coating about it.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was filled with emotion and condemnation and horror. This book almost seemed to excuse the evil actions of Pierrot in order to save some likeableness for him. Although he struggles with regrets, to me, it didn’t seem sincere. He simply wants to make himself feel better and bring some stability to his life. A guilty conscience is a good start, but this book is almost the equivalent of patting a criminal on the head saying, “oh don’t be so hard on yourself!” I wanted to like this so badly and I just didn’t.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction. But I wouldn’t recommend this to teens, the message is a little too murky and I wouldn’t want to cause any confusion.