Jaime's Reviews > The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
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Jan 15, 12

bookshelves: 2011, historical_fiction, wwii, young_adult
Read in December, 2011

This book is meant to be a fable, but I’m not sure it’s entirely successful. It is written in the voice of Bruno, the 9 year old son of a high-ranking Nazi officer, and that’s the part that didn’t work for me. Considering the audience and intentions of the author, I can forgive the historical inaccuracies (which I won’t detail here, because many others have said it better), but I can’t forgive the cute. Boyne gives Bruno a voice, vocabulary, and level of naivety that is more appropriate for a 6 or 7 year old, and it just doesn’t ring true. And maybe I’ve just read too many Holocaust novels and memoirs, but "cute" nicknames for Hitler and Auschwitz don’t feel right to me. And the ending was so disappointingly expected, it had no emotional impact on me at all.

It just all seemed really forced to me. I feel like the author had a message he wanted to get out — basically, "if you treat others badly, it will come back on you" — and he decided the best way to get attention would be to wrap it in the horrors of the Holocaust. It’s a marketing ploy, nothing more. And it worked! Can’t fault him for that.

I don’t think the book is entirely without merit. I think it could be useful in a classroom setting as an introduction to the Holocaust for young children. But only as an introduction, since the book is far from the reality of the situation.

There is much better Holocaust literature out there.
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