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Book Club (specific books) > The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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J-Lynn Van Pelt | 25 comments Mod
I swear there was a thread running about this book somewhere, but I can't find it. I just finished The Boy In the Striped Pajamas and am reeling. Has anyone read it?

If I look at the Holocaust historical fiction genre as a whole, I am not sure what this book adds to the group. It does show another point of view, from the child of the Commandant of Auschwitz, but Bruno is so terrifically dense--naive well beyond his nine years--that I am not sure what the point is. Bruno talks to his Jewish friend on the other side of the fence for over a year--he lives in his house which also serves as the headquarters of Auschwitz for over a year--and I am supposed to believe that he doesn't have any clue what is going on in the camp? I know children are narcissistic and self involved, but this book takes that idea to a whole other level. Bruno's tunnel vision is so great that I keep wondering if maybe that it was some sort of message that the author was trying to get across. Maybe that kids can create and live in an alternate reality as long as they need to? Was that the point?

If not, what was the point? Surely it wasn't the shocking ending that served little in adding to the greater story of the Holocaust. The ending served no purpose. It didn't make the father see what was wrong, it didn't make the guards question what they were doing, it didn't make the Jews who died in the camp any less tragic, what was the ending's purpose? My guess is just shock value.

Any thoughts? Did anyone like it? Please explain why.

message 2: by Ken (last edited Feb 12, 2008 02:14AM) (new)

Ken Hi J-Lynn,

There is a topic for this book in the YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR ADULTS group. I belong to 3 YA Groups here on Goodreads and they all overlap.

Anyway, I cut and paste my post (a few weeks old) from over there just to assure you that you're not the only one to consider this book a poor one. Here it is:

Hello all. For a different viewpoint, I offer the fact that I had major problems with this book. I thought it was off-the-charts unrealistic. It had two "children" of a high-ranking Nazi official who live in Berlin during WWII (never mentioned) yet seem to know nothing of the war going on.

When the father is assigned a top post at Auschwitz (never mentioned by name), the son befriends a boy in striped pajamas he meets by the fence (the son can't figure out it's a prison). The boy in striped pajamas -- apparently unwatched for huge stretches of time -- shows up every day at this fence -- apparently unguarded for huge stretches of time, to talk to the Nazi's son.

It's all beyond the pale and, I would think, insulting to young adult readers' intelligence.

Or so it struck me. Great moral to the tale at the ending (a dark take on Twain's THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER), but really, it took the suspension of disbelief and made a mockery of it.

message 3: by Beckie (new)

Beckie | 12 comments Hi, I loved the book. Yes, maybe it is fantasy more than realistic, but I loved LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and actually found out later when everyone was saying no one could hide a small boy for that long, that in fact, a two year old was hidden for over a year, and saved. I like to see different points of view. And I don't think we realize how little children who were good Germans had no idea what was happening to Jewish Children. I thought it was a lovely point of view and showed friendship at the highest cost.

Beckie Weinheimer
Author of Converting Kate

message 4: by Ken (new)

Ken Hey, I love reading all opinions. That's why they have horse races!

New England
Author of "Godspeed to Place"
(Just horsing around.)

J-Lynn Van Pelt | 25 comments Mod
Glad to see I am not alone in my negative reaction to the book. I just don't get it. I will check out the discussion on the other site. Thanks.

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