The boy in the striped pyjamas, what a cryptic title! It made me guess about the book before I even read it. Is he our main protagonist? What makes his role so special that one has to name the book after him? Luckily, I got to know very quickly because the book was such a page-turner. The boy in the striped pyjamas starts unexpectedly and ends unexpectedly which makes for an interesting, yet suspenseful story. The book tells of a young German boy called Bruno, whose life takes a turn in a matter of hours. Bruno comes back from school one day to find the house maid, Maria going through and packing up every single possession he owned. His father had received a promotion and everyone had to move to a new house in the middle of nowhere. The house was bordered by a tall fence that went on for what seemed like forever. In the story, Bruno must learn to adapt into such an alien environment, but he also must realise that he didn’t get the worst end of the deal. What he thinks is unfair about his new house is nothing compared to what the men and women on the other side of the fence experience each day.
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The boy in the striped pyjamas was written in third person narrative, being told through the author. On the subject of perspective, Bruno’s depiction of the World War II is very different to how, say an army lieutenant would depict it. Bruno’s perspective makes the whole story a lot more subtle despite all of the hostilities around him.
The book was set in 1942 in World War II Berlin. World War II was a very horrible time. Nothing like it has ever happened in the past. If it did happen again, it would certainly not be the same. I like how the author doesn’t interpret the war into the book too much, for Bruno is mostly shielded from all the violence of the war.
This book really changed my mental image of World War II. Before, I had always thought that it was just one of the many wars that come and go. This book really illustrates the amount of pain, loss and suffering that so many Jews had to go through. As well, it made me think about how lucky we all are to have a roof over our heads. To have food and drink brought to us regularly. When we worry about cell phone signals, others worry about when they will receive their next hot meal. The boy in the striped pyjamas made me think more than any other book has in a while. This was a really superb read that could leave an impact on all ages.
Book Reviewed by Adam Ford
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