Dianne Ascroft's Reviews > The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
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's review
Sep 19, 2008

really liked it
Recommended for: 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.
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07/14/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Miss Ryoko Thank you so much Dianne for touching on the fact that this book's main basis was the relationship between Bruno and Shmuel. I feel like A LOT of readers missed that mark and choose to focus only on "how historically inaccurate this book is" which wasn't Boyne's main goal. Oy! So thank you!

message 2: by Boyd (new)

Boyd Over one million Jewish children were killed and this book and this book belittles it by focusing on one dead German kid? Where are your tears for the over 1,000,000 children that were Jewish? Read the diary of Anne Frank if you want to cry for the girl who represented millions of others who were butchered by the Germans during the Nazi regime

Miss Ryoko Wow that was a really arrogant comment Boyd. How do you know how Dianne feels or what she has done in regards to the lives lost in the Holocaust?

By the way, this book is fiction. In case you missed the memo. I didn't know it was not okay to cry for fictional characters dying.

If you didn't like the book, fine. But don't go being an immature rude little brat to people who did. Find something more productive to do with your time.

message 4: by Boyd (new)

Boyd *Glamazon* wrote: "Wow that was a really arrogant comment Boyd. How do you know how Dianne feels or what she has done in regards to the lives lost in the Holocaust?

By the way, this book is fiction. In case you mis..."

The book, like you, trivializes the 8,000,000 Jews wiped out by the Nazis. Dianne needs to know that. Arrogance is less offensive than than Ignorance.

I think you missed the memo Glamazon when you equate the Hollocaust with fiction! Auschwitz on the other of the fence is a real, identifiable German death camp. But why do I bother to tell you who prefer to be blind and deaf to the horrors of this place at this time.

It is obvious you have never been to a Holocaust museum, have seen
pictures of children slaughtered in front of their parents because they were too young to work in the camps their parents were going to to be worked to death, gassed, shot, become the subject of medical experiments.

Did you know that gays, Poles, gypsies, people with disabilities among others were also slaughtered by the Germans during this period? To make people feel sorry for one ignorant Nazi commandant's son is to trivialize the 8,000,000 Jews who went to the deaths in the Holocaust.

message 5: by Miss Ryoko (last edited Jan 30, 2014 06:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Miss Ryoko Oh here we go again... I love how you assume everything like you just know everything about everyone. I've actually BEEN to both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. And that's all I'm going to say. Because morons like you don't deserve the attention you are so desperately seeking.

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