Jan 25, 09
anyone interested in historical fiction
read count: 1
I decided to read this book because a friend told me that, in some respects, it reminded her of my novel, ‘Hitler and Mars Bars’. So I wanted to find out what she meant. The most obvious similarity is that the main character in each book is a German boy who is caught up in the events of the Second World War.
Both books are simply written but effective and moving. Unlike my own book, Boyne’s novel is completely unadorned. Yet it also captures the character’s emotions and the situation he finds himself in. Even though the reading level is elementary, the narration draws you into the story. It doesn’t need to be more complex because, with few words plainly written, he makes you care what happens to the characters.
Some reviewers have criticised Boyne’s main character, Bruno, saying he is too naïve for his age. Bruno may be an exaggeration of a sheltered, middle class child or he may be typical of a child raised in a more innocent era. But, either way, his naivety and his responses to events add poignancy to the story. His guileless viewpoint presents the concentration camp, where the story is set, in a stark manner.
In my book, my main character, Erich, develops a greater awareness of the world around him than Bruno does but the story is told over a longer period. Bruno doesn’t have a chance to learn and grow.
Even though Bruno is young and naïve, he develops a strong, caring friendship with Shmuel, a boy in the concentration camp. Friendship and human bonds are the book’s central theme. Unnecessary details are pared away so that the friendship and interaction between the two boys stands out.
What struck me most about The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is the powerful ending. I was not expecting the turn the story took and was shocked when I reached the end. Usually I don’t like sad or disturbing endings and maybe that’s why my novel ends on a hopeful note. But such a raw, horrific ending was the best one for this story. This book will make you stop and think. It is a completely different angle from which to view the Second World War and Boyne has done it well.