Madeline's Reviews > The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
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's review
Feb 13, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: assigned-reading, kids-and-young-adult, ugh, the-movie-is-better
Read in February, 2010

As Michael Kors once sighed to a clueless designer on Project Runway: Where do I start?

Let's open with some descriptive words that sum up this book, and I will then go on to explain them in further detail: Patronizing. Insipid. Smarmy. Just plain bad.

Patronizing: I believe that to write good children's literature, you have to think that children are intelligent, capable human beings who are worth writing for - like Stephen King, who probably thinks kids are smarter than adults. The author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, on the other hand, clearly thinks that children are idiots. The main character, Bruno, is supposed to be nine years old, but compared to him Danny Torrance of The Shining (who was six) looks like a Mensa member. There's childlike naivety, and then there's Bruno, who is so stunningly unobservant and unperceptive that I actually started to wonder if he was supposed to be mentally deficient somehow. And he's not the only child who receives Boyne's withering scorn and condescension. Take this scene between Bruno and his sister Gretel, when they've just moved to their house at "Out-With" (as Bruno insists on calling it, despite being corrected many times and seeing the name written down) and are wondering how long they're going to stay there. Bruno's father, a commandant in charge of the camp, has told the kids that they'll be there "for the foreseeable future" and Bruno doesn't know what that means.
"'It means weeks from now,' Gretel said with an intelligent nod of her head. 'Perhaps as long as three.'"
Gretel is twelve years old, by the way. TWELVE. See what I meant about Boyne thinking kids are morons?

Insipid And Smarmy: this book was not meant for kids to read. It's meant for adults who know about the Holocaust already, so they can read it and sigh over the precious innocent widdle children's adorable misunderstanding of the horrible events surrounding them and how they still remain innocent and uuuuuuggggggghhhhh. There's a scene towards the end, where Bruno puts on a pair of the "striped pajamas" so he can visit his friend on the other side of the fence. Bruno has had lice, so his head is shaved. When he puts on the pajamas, the Jewish boy observes him and the narration commits the following Hallmark-worthy atrocity: "If it wasn't for the fact that Bruno was nowhere near as skinny as the boys on his side of the fence, and not quite so pale either, it would have been difficult to tell them apart. It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were all exactly the same really."


Just Plain Bad: This book is, technically, historic fiction, but I'm not putting it on my history shelf, because there is nothing historical in this book. Bruno is supposed to have grown up in Nazi Germany, the son of a high ranking SS officer, but based on his knowledge of everything, he's spent his entire nine years sitting inside with his eyes shut humming loudly while covering his ears. Okay, I get that he wouldn't know about the concentration camps - hardly anyone did at that point. But there are other things: Bruno consistently (and adorably!) mispronounces the Fuhrer as "the Fury" (I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE JOHN BOYNE), and doesn't recognize the following key words and phrases: Jews, Fatherland, Heil Hitler. What. The fuck. Okay, so maybe this kid's too young to be in Hitler Youth (his sister isn't though, but for some reason she's not in it either), but come on - he thinks "Heil Hitler" is just a polite way to end a conversation. A nine-year-old boy growing up in a military household in Nazi Germany doesn't know what Heil Hitler means.

All of this comes back to my original thesis: John Boyne thinks that children are idiots.

Look, Boyne: just because you don't understand anything (history, children, good writing) doesn't mean the rest of us are quite so useless. Go cash your checks for that awful movie adaptation they did of this book and never try to make a statement about anything ever again, please.

Read for: Social Justice in Young Adult Literature
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02/07/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-50 of 91) (91 new)

message 1: by Jesse (new)

Jesse You had me with opening PR reference, but I thoroughly enjoyed what sounds like a richly-deserved pummeling. :)

Madeline To be honest, criticizing a Holocaust-related book makes me feel like a horrible person. But really, there are so many better books out there that cover the same subject without even coming close to the levels of awful that this little book manages to achieve.

Boyne deserves everything he gets for taking one of the worst atrocities in human history and turning it into a Hallmark card.

message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael I liked the movie. I didn't know it was a book. I didn't read it so I don't know how ignorant the kid was portrayed, but it's very easy to keep children in the dark when the only information they get is from their parents. I know that can be hard to relate to since we are in an age of information. I hated pizza when I was a kid. Why? Because I thought pizza, the only kind that was ever made, was 'supreme pizza'. I thought that WAS pizza. I hated 'supreme pizza', therefore I hated pizza. It wasn't until my parents were divorced and I was in the 5th grade in 1980 (11 years old!!) and went in to get the pizza that I found out there were other pizza types. I was so pissed at my mother. She was dumbstruck that her children, me and my younger sister, didn't know there were other pizza types. If this can happen by accident in a city as large as Houston, to children in public school who are intelligent, then parents can hide ANYTHING from children if they are deprived of information. That's exactly how it was portrayed in the film - that the child was kept in the dark. Just wanted to toss in that crazy pizza thing to show how kids could be so ignorant, especially if the parents are intentionally withholding information. The only thing you knew when I was a kid was what your parents told you and what you learned in school. Not much. There were only a few channels of TV and no internet. Now move the timeline back 36 more years. It worked for me in the movie. Maybe try the movie, and feel free to move this post to Flixster.

Elizabeth☮ wow! what a review! i actually really liked this book, but upon reading your review i'm thinking i should reconsider my thoughts.

message 5: by Laura (new)

Laura Madeline wrote: "To be honest, criticizing a Holocaust-related book makes me feel like a horrible person. But really, there are so many better books out there that cover the same subject without even coming close t..."

Don't feel bad about criticizing this book. It deserves it. I think the Wikipedia entry says it all:

Madeline That quote from the rabbi summed up my thoughts on this book completely. Also the fact that there weren't a whole lot of nine-year-old boys running around Auschwitz.

Madeline Okay, so I just finished watching the movie version of this, and can say with authority that people should watch Boy in the Striped Pajamas instead of reading it. It's not a great movie, but it's still infinitely better than the book for multiple reasons. All of the characters are better defined and understandable, the screenplay writer fixed Boyne's major historical mistakes, and the ending packs a considerably bigger punch to the emotional gonads. Best of all you don't have to endure Boyne's simpering, badly-written narration.

I shall add this to my "the movie is better" shelf accordingly.

message 8: by Sandra (new)

Sandra I have not read the book but did watch the movie. It has an underlying horror throughout that belies your reading of the book. I found it haunting and horrifying aside from the fact that there were no doubt very few nine year olds at Auschwitz. I thought the movie did a creditable job of showing how adept we humans are at denial and evasion of truth.

Elizabeth☮ i think it's similar to life is beautiful. another take on suspension of disbelief during WWII. i HATED this movie, and i didn't particularly care for the boy in striped pajamas because i read the book first. but i also read the book at least a year before it became a movie. sometimes the hype of a movie or book can taint a reading.

message 10: by Sandra (new)

Sandra I didn't watch Life is Beautiful for that very reason. I can't say I liked The Boy in Striped Pajamas, but it has haunted me since I watched it.

message 11: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Ingall belatedly checking in (i'll be linking to you in a moment! AGAIN!) to say, tho i have not seen the movie, THANK YOU FOR THIS BOOK REVIEW GAAAAHHHHH THIS BOOK IS SO OFFENSIVELY FAUX-NAIVE AND MORONIC AND HISTORICALLY AND PEDAGOGICALLY VOMIT-INDUCING that i went into an emotional caps-lock state as i relived reading it thru reading this review.

Madeline Thanks for the link! I agree, John Boyne is one of those authors I want to see in person specifically so I can punch him in the face.

I read on your blog about the Anne Frank fan-fic book that's coming out - have you ever heard of The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank? Basically the author decided that Peter survived the concentration camp, changed his name, moved to America and got married. Then at one point he sees the stage version of The Diary of Anne Frank. It's actually not an awful book, as long as you pretend that Anne Frank is a fictional character like everyone else in the story.

message 13: by Matilda (new) - added it

Matilda Yes, yes yes. Yes yes and yes again. I loved this review. I love the ire and the boundless contempt. I love the rage and the loathing. John Boyne deserves all of it and more. I entirely agree that it's a book written for sick adults who want to believe in a totally false idea of childhood innocence, but to USE the Holocaust for THAT? Hanging is too good for him, and yes, the writing style is plain repulsive and yes, please, please can we go to his house and tie him up and torture him and if he has children, do some nasty experiments on them, and burn them and inject them with rabies and say, 'oh no, we just don't have a clue what's going on, because we are really nice people, we're just creating a work of art,' (say) and 'sorry, who spoke? Soap doesn't speak,' etc and etc and so on and so forth. Oooooh I so loved reading your review.

The other thing about this book - and I only read a few chapters of it because I hated it so much, I simply could not put myself through it without becoming morally tainted (though I know what happens in it, and find the ending particularly repellant) - is that it is really a way of just saying, 'oh nothing is anyone's fault and we're all the same and isn't life lovely' when it is not. What I WANT of course is a book with Mengele playing a star role, or Mengele's children, going, 'oh let's see what we can do about blue-eyed twins and just experiment on this Jew here,' and have a lot of duff questions about whether Jews are human or not, which of course they aren't. Are they. No, they are produce, material, lab rats or prostitutes, or bits of hair to be used to stuff sofas with, they are NOT REAL, so it doesn't matter what you do to them. In fact Jews themselves should willingly offer themselves up for sacrifice because they have to be insane to consider themselves worthy of anything else (or so thought the Germans in 1944. And 1930. And um, well, all the time really). THIS is the book I WANT to read. This is what the Germans actually thought, ALL OF THEM. What's worst about this book - even the title makes my blood boil - is that it simply avoids anti-semitism, which is a BIG avoidance. I want to send Boyne hate mail. I hate banality anyway but this just beggars belief, and I LOVE the way you keep saying: I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE JOHN BOYNE in capitals.

He is repulsive, a repulsive human being - I mean I hate people like that anyway, who are this glib and sanctimonious, but to do that with - what - Auschwitz? Auschwitz is my special subject. I dream of it. I started dreaming about it when I was nine, so this Bruno character has no excuse, but we all know children are not that thick, and that he's a character invented to process thoughts about how to commit genocide and pretend you're not doing that, and that is ALL the book is doing. (Also someone said something about pizza earlier, but that's not really relevant, as pizza isn't burning with the fat of millions of dying people and writhing in hate and evil, it's just food, so proffering up childhood errors on good or bad pizza is mendacious within this context.) And, you'd be aware of a concentration camp if you were living next door to it. As Rabbi Blech said, 'the stench of burning human flesh and the ashes of corpses from the crematoria filled the air for miles around.' It would be interesting to talk to a real child of a Nazi commandant but I bet you (after a few hours of copious denial and provided they've not read this book for clues as to to how to get out of it) he or she will simply say, 'I fucking hate Jews and I am glad they died. My father was doing the world a favour. If only it had worked.' I know this, because I've watched interviews with these people - ex Nazis and so on - and that is what they end up saying, though sometimes they say, 'I know I'm not supposed to think this, but I just can't help it. I really do just hate Jews.' Though these people will LOVE this book, not because they believe a word of it, but because they can just sit back and watch the rest of us get on with not hating them as they deserve, and then the Holocaust can just be scrubbed over and no one has to pay. There is a Final Solution, but it involves shame, a notion no one thinks about these days.

One is aware of human evil really early on, probably at birth, so no child is exempt, and you either go with it or do something about it. This book is just so flagrantly using ideas of innocence to get itself off the hook in so many different ways, and in every single sentence, and it is basically not a book about the Holocaust at all, it's a how-to guide on becoming a Holocaust denier and also a how-to guide on recreating the fucking thing. I want that one sentence repeated ad infinitum. So here's what we should do. Round up not only Boyne but everyone who liked the book (there are a lot of them, I notice) and put them in a concentration camp and just keep telling them it's not really happening and everyone is having a charming time, ALL THE TIME, it's a pageant, that they are really in a latter-day Heaven, especially when tossing their babies on bayonets and I dunno - cutting out their uteruses and using them for sex and working them to death, and keep on saying that we're completely innocent and it's all great and anyway they ought to be enjoying themselves because what on earth are they FOR? Etc. That would be justice.

Also, maybe get everyone to read House of Dolls. I liked that one. Have you read it? And maybe Let's Go Play At The Adams'. THAT is more like what the nine year old children of Nazi commandants were like, I am quite sure. And if not, then let's read a book about that, about guilt? Where's THAT book? Nowhere. Why is it nowhere? Because why would anyone ever feel any guilt about treating a Jew as pestilence? While there are no books on guilt (at least as far as I am aware, do tell me), I am inclined to believe that the Germans are a totally anti-semitic race and look back on the Second World War as a marvellous period of time for them, and I am WAITING for someone to disprove that view. Because you don't feel guilt when dealing with vermin. It really was, 'ugh, there's a Jew, let's stamp on it.' There's something evil about this book (I refuse to repeat the title), and there's also something evil about The Reader, by Bernard Schlink. What would Shakespeare say about all this? He did good work on Othello, which explores ideas of racism and misogyny and murder and gets us to see why someone would kill their wife if he genuinely believed her inconstant, though I hardly sympathise. Perhaps he could write a play called 'Boyne'. Perhaps I should.

Madeline Wow. I'm glad you agreed with my review, I'm just gonna...stand back and let the dust settle a bit.

The only thing I can add to your comment is the suggestion that everyone watch Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. It's a German movie about an anti-Nazi resistance movement started by German students during WWII - so not all Germans thought Jews were evil, and the ones who didn't were educated, sensible adults and not absurdly innocent nine-year-olds.

message 15: by Matilda (last edited Sep 01, 2011 03:27AM) (new) - added it

Matilda Yes.

I did go a little overboard there, did I not? Then I wrote a lot more, deleted it, got drunk, read up on Forgiveness in Auschwitz, read some inane blogs, watched half your movie and went to sleep.

The Sophie Scholl movie is getting to the point where I am aware she's not going to get through this one alive, even though all she did was hand out some pamphlets. I would have died straight off in that situation on grounds of rudeness - though in fact wouldn't be in it as I'd already be in a camp. What's good about the film is that it gives you a real picture of totalitarianism. The problem I find is that I just hate the value system of Nazi Germany: it's so anti-intellectual and pro family life - she actually gets asked if she's married at one point - see, to that one, I'd have said, 'me? No, I screw around and it annoys me I don't fancy you or I'd screw you too because this interview is really boring' and that would be it. I am being slightly facetious here but they do so annoy me, not just the extermination aspect but the endless romanticisation of domestic bliss at whatever personal cost. In fact the two go together in my book. This is in fact why so many people like 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas' (God, do I hate that title) because they like that sort of idea of childhood innocence, and read it to their children, and it's kind of as if they are actually building crematoria in order to realise this dream: so there's something in this idea of a 'Hallmark card' version of events that is exactly what the Nazis themselves believed, and why I think the book is Nazi propaganda. I do like the way Rabbi Blech actually talked to an Auschwitz survivor about the book, who wept and begged him to tell everyone that 'it was not just a lie, and a fairy tale, but a profanation.' See, were I Boyd, and I read that, I'd have sleepless nights. I'd probably have to write another book, an apologia. But the trouble is, it's the value system in that book: it chimes in too pleasantly with a suburban ethic, which makes me want to watch Halloween again, because that film is all about demolishing Suburbia. I know it's meant to be a horror movie about a mad serial killer with sexual problems but it's really about the destruction of banality. I don't know why more people don't see it that way.

So. I am quite interested in how these two things go together, the loathsome sentimentality and twee portraiture, and the evasion of the actuality of the Holocaust. My point is that these things co-exist anyway, and connect up with bad Art. Hitler was a failed painter - I actually saw one of his paintings and was shocked at how bland and dead it was - he had absolutely no imagination at all - and this is why he had these ghastly ideas about beautiful blonde Germans living happily together once he'd rid the world of pestilence, which included, well just about everything I like - good art, interesting literature, sexy women, educated women, jews, gypsies, freedom of speech, independent identity, original thought, insanity, sexual deviance etc. His taste was execrable, and he turned his taste into a political worldview, which, in my opinion, was bound to include this real boss-eyed torture aspect and genocide, because that's what bad art is all about. It denies the interesting and beautiful, and beneath the boringness is death, violence and all the rest of it.

In a way, I'm quite glad this book has been written, because it's almost a stupid thing to do, to misrepresent the Holocaust to such an extent, and at the same time be this banal and trivial, to literally be, at one and the same time, bad art, bad and bad FOR you.

I could go on about Bruno versus Danny now, and the creation of good art though perceptiveness and awareness, but I won't. I'll watch the rest of the Sophie film. She doesn't wear enough makeup.

message 16: by Matilda (new) - added it

Matilda I've just finished watching 'Sophie Scholl: The Final Days' and felt honoured by the experience. Thanks for recommending it. It was just so sad. I actually feel at a loss for words.

message 17: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Madeline, did you take our copy of Sophie Scholl?

I really, really love that movie and book.

Madeline No, I don't have it. I'm sure it's somewhere on the DVD shelf.

message 19: by Matilda (new) - added it

Matilda It is possible to watch this film via Stagevu, which is free, on the internet, and you just type in Stagevu (on google) and then the movie you want. They don't have everything but they have that one.

message 20: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Madeline wrote: "No, I don't have it. I'm sure it's somewhere on the DVD shelf."

I'm kind of terrified of our DVD shelves. I see all of these movies I did not even know we owned. It's like some kind of black hole.

message 21: by Bob (new) - rated it 1 star

Bob Loved your review. Not just the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but very well said. I also concur with your opinions on Sophie Scholl. If you haven't read it then, The Book Thief is everything that BISP isn't - well-written, poetic, historically accurate and bloody good.

message 22: by Matilda (new) - added it

Matilda Bob wrote: "Loved your review. Not just the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but very well said. I also concur with your opinions on Sophie Scholl. If you haven't read it then, The Book Thief ..."

Ah - I also hated The Book Thief - not at all, not remotely for the same reasons - but just because it isn't about The Holocaust. Of course it IS, and of course it's a sensitive portrayal of people in there, and wonderful about what literature means; by no means a bad book, by no means evil in the way TBITSP is - it's just not DARK ENOUGH. It doesn't encapsulate the horror. It's not disresepectful, but it's still many leagues away - it is NOT ENOUGH - and for that reason, and as far as i'm concerned - kick it to the kerb. I need a book that IS the Holocaust. Till then - what are these frail leaves, these feet of clay? Madeleine already knows I loved her review, no point repeating.

message 23: by Rue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rue I really don't think u people have brains in ur heads. What's in ther just mush?! You guys are probably the same Twilight fans right? well, he's not trying to say kids are stupid. Just that their naive, which in some cases is true. I really believe that Bruno does not want to believe or realize that what his Father is doing is bad. So he just makes excuses. At the end he's just tring to be a friend to someone who needs it.

Madeline Oh dear. I could take the time to craft a an argument in response to your hot mess of a comment, but unfortunately I have a barrel full of fish that need shooting.

message 25: by Tim (new)

Tim Thanks. I'll stay away from this book. I thought the movie was quite powerful though. I must say one thing, however:

I grew up in the most torrid time of Apartheid South Africa. When Steven Biko was killed in '77, I was ten years old. When the Soweto Riots happened I was 9. I knew what was going on. I knew what was going on because of my parents. My mother worked for the Black Sash, an anti-apartheid organisation of white women. They knew everything. By the time I was a teenager, the situation was much worse. And yet even in the eighties, when the country was in a state of civil war, the majority of my school-friends did not believe that the government was doing what it actually was doing. I really was in the minority of White South Africans in believing the apartheid state to be an unspeakably evil regime, abducting people in the dead of night and taking them off to remote places to be killed, dismembered and burned. I got into so many arguments with school friends over this. In the end I was right, although i can assure you, it gave me no comfort to have been proved right. I can't explain why.

And really, I was right only because my parents had been right.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with Tim that one of the perks of belonging to a privileged caste is the luxury of not knowing what horrors are being perpetrated in the name of preserving that caste's privileged position. But kids do absorb the culture around them, and ignorance of the word Führer and the greeting "Heil Hitler" does seem an awful stretch.

Madeline Yeah, that was what frustrated me the most about this book - not the fact that Bruno was ignorant of Nazi atrocities, but that he didn't seem aware that the Nazis even existed

message 28: by Jacqueline (new) - added it

Jacqueline Intended to read the book. As an English teacher I feel it's my duty ;-). Added it to my currently rwading shelf, but not so sure I want to now. Maybe so I know what evetyone's talking about. I didn't like Life is beautiful, so maybe this won't be my cup of tea either. Then again, I didn't like the Catcher in the Rye or On the Road. Supposedly classics. I'm guessing I'm not a very good English teacher ;-).

Marie On face value it is quite obvious how Bruno and Gretel are unbelievably naieve. However if you re-read it with an open mind, perhaps you will move beyond that frustration and see how Boyne has really harnessed a fable (because that is what it is) that has taken very complicated issues and simplified them to emphasise on the morals of the story.
I agree that it is not a challenging read, one of the most easiest reads out there. But I think that it can be challenging for young adults if they deconstruct it and analyse changing relationships, history, themes, etc.

message 30: by Erastes (new)

Erastes Got here via a circuitous route via my review of Boyne's Absolutist which I probably should have panned more than I did.

I'm very glad I haven't read this book--I have seen the film which seems to be a million times better than the book. If there's something I loathe in fiction more than most others it's an adult who has no idea on how to write children and do it believably for the age they are. It does seem from your review that Bruno isn't an innocent at all but severely educationally sub-normal, for all the reasons you point out. Boyne should be very very ashamed of himself.

message 31: by Matilda (new) - added it

Matilda Madeline wrote: "Oh dear. I could take the time to craft a an argument in response to your hot mess of a comment, but unfortunately I have a barrel full of fish that need shooting."


message 32: by Miawka (new)

Miawka Ok so. I started read the book yesterday night and I'm glad to see that my first feeling was the same that yours. Something is telling me that this book is gonna take the dust on my shelve for a long long time : forever. Glad that the feeling I had with Bruno was not wrong. SO NAIVE. Jeez. I read a lot of books about holocaust and kids wasn't that stupid.

message 33: by Lina (new) - rated it 1 star

Lina I really like your review. Guess I should reread the book, to be more aware of it's flaws this time. But I remember his inability to pronounce "Führer", which is even more stupid in German, since it's not a difficult word to pronounce.

Matilda wrote: "While there are no books on guilt (at least as far as I am aware, do tell me), I am inclined to believe that the Germans are a totally anti-semitic race and look back on the Second World War as a marvellous period of time for them, and I am WAITING for someone to disprove that view."

*raises hand* Here! (Even though you might have found someone for that by now)
To try to talk positively about WWII here in Germany is actually dangerous. Could get you in serious trouble with the extreme left, not to mention the government. It is seen as anything but a marvellous time, rather it's awful, horrible and also annoying. Awful and horrible because of what happened back then, annoying because it's so often the only thing people of other nationalities seem to see in Germans. (We also had extreme left terrorism in the 60s/70s, which was the time when the children asked their parents "Did you know what was going on?!", which led to serious issues... there was quite a lot going on)
Apart from that, Anti-semitism was not and is not simply a German problem, rather a European one. If only they'd try to teach us in school about how it came to be, maybe it would help to stop it's new rise.

Madeline I might be wrong, but I think I heard somewhere that it's actually illegal in Germany to publish materials denying the Holocaust? There was some American author who wrote a book in that vein and he wanted to come to Germany and give a talk on it, and Germany was like, how about you don't do that?

And I agree that Germans get unfairly saddled with all the anti-semitism. For just one example, the French may have fought with the Allies, but they, in general, fucking hated the Jews.

diana burns that is a very sad book and the movie is too i cried on both of them

message 36: by Lina (new) - rated it 1 star

Lina Madeline wrote: "I might be wrong, but I think I heard somewhere that it's actually illegal in Germany to publish materials denying the Holocaust? There was some American author who wrote a book in that vein and he wanted to come to Germany and give a talk on it, and Germany was like, how about you don't do that?"

Yes, public Holocaust denial is illegal in all german-speaking states. Even the NPD(The political party for Nazis in Germany nowadays) doesn't dare to do it, they only say "Oh, that had to have been less people than 6 million, ya know?" Which is kind of funny, seeing as how the original Nazis were far from denying or even condemning it.

Madeline wrote: "And I agree that Germans get unfairly saddled with all the anti-semitism. For just one example, the French may have fought with the Allies, but they, in general, fucking hated the Jews."

I also remember my history teacher telling the class that the US didn't want to have that many Jews who were fleeing from the Nazis coming into the country. Guess that's the European heritage which always painted Jews in a not favourable light.
Feels a bit like the modern hatred against Islam. Orwell, maybe some people will never get it.

message 37: by Félix (new)

Félix I haven't read this -- but I saw the film and found it to not be believable. Lame, in fact.

Madeline Believe it or not, they changed a lot of details in the movie to make the story seem more realistic. For example, the screenplay writers added a subplot about Bruno's sister joining the Hitler Youth - an organization that is unmentioned in Boyne's book, despite the fact that his main character is the child of an SS officer.

diana burns i watched the movie and read the book.
they both made me cry each time.

message 40: by vampire shayla (new)

vampire shayla rue, what the hell. to say we haveno brian i completly agree with tje review your just a stupidarogant bitch

message 41: by vampire shayla (new)

vampire shayla what the $&($ to say thatwe dont have brians your just a stupid arogant #%¥€£

khushi :)

Madeline No, it's not real. It has numerous historical inaccuracies (the children of an SS officer, specifically the twelve-year-old daughter, could not possibly avoid joining the Hitler Youth; and there were no children at Auschwitz), and Boyne specifically wrote it in the style of a fable - in other words, he did just about everything in his power to keep this story as far away from reality as possible.

The Diary of Anne Frank is real. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is candy-coated bullshit.

message 44: by Peter Ramirez (new)

Peter Ramirez I have always wanted to read that book , Wright back

Savannah Blewer I loved that book. It was amazing

message 46: by Melissa Smith (new)

Melissa Smith I love your perspective! It's refreshing.

Courtney Townill I just finished reading this and your review definitely sums up what I was thinking! I can see how Bruno might not have understood the concentration camp and what happens on the other side of the fence, but he would AT THE VERY LEAST know what 'Heil Hitler' meant and know better than to refer to Hitler 'the Fury.' The obviousness of Shmuel's observation that Bruno and he were pretty close to the same after all was just a lazy way for Boyd to get his point across, much like the way he drifts out of Bruno's perspective and into those of other characters. Great & honest review (plus a Project Runway reference!) :)

message 48: by Annie Dobbs (new) - added it

Annie Dobbs looks like a weird cover

message 49: by Ipek (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ipek Slow clapping the review.

message 50: by Arika (last edited Jul 20, 2014 09:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Arika I know this is an old review, but I just listened to commentary by the author and publisher on this book and they addressed a couple of your criticisms. They made the points multiple times that this is neither a kids book, or an adults book, but a story. The author said he had no particular audience in mind when he wrote it. Also, the author and publisher decided jointly to label this story as a fable. Strict historical accuracy was never the intention of the author so your decision to keep it off of your history shelf was an appropriate one. I understand your criticisms, but emotionally it got to me, specifically the man who worked in the kitchen, so it was easier for me to suspend my disbelief and not nitpick the authors lack of subtlety. This book is kind of like Holocaust Light and not a terrible introduction for kids on my opinion.

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