Young Adult Fiction for Adults discussion

Non-series Books > The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

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message 1: by Alexandra (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:27PM) (new)

Alexandra | 37 comments Put it on my to-read list :)

message 2: by Krista the Krazy Kataloguer (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:43PM) (new)

Krista the Krazy Kataloguer (KristatheKrazyKataloguer) | 2 comments I agree, Hollie. I think maybe children wouldn't quite get the story, so I would class it as young adult or adult. It's a powerful story, and would be a great addition to any curriculum on the Holocaust. Didn't you think, though, that the commandant's son was a bit too naive? That's the only problem I have with the book. Nevertheless, it was a chilling story.

message 3: by Ken (new)

Ken 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 Aushwitz (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.

alisonwonderland | 6 comments the subtitle of the book is "A Fable." i think it is supposed to require some suspension of disbelief (similar to a more traditional fable that has animals as the characters). i don't think that the fact that the book is a fable in any way diminishes the power of the book - in fact, because the themes can be expanded to apply to much more than WWII and Aushwitz, it is even more powerful. i loved this book!

message 5: by Ken (new)

Ken alisonwonderland (great nom de poste, by the way) -- Maybe you could let it off the hook for that, though I don't see how this book is a fable (unless just adding the word to the title conveniently makes it so -- license to play fast and loose with what is, let's face it, a touchy subject).

I guess it's a matter of taste, in the end. For me, the conceit didn't work at all (but for others, obviously, yes).

Back to Aesop,

message 6: by J-Lynn (new)

J-Lynn (JVanPelt) | 27 comments I knew there was a discussion about this book somewhere, thanks to Newengland for directing me here.

I figure I will add another perspective as well. People keep using the term "powerful" to describe this book and I just don't get it. I found it frustrating and, quite frankly, disturbing. My question is--HOW does this book add to Holocaust curriculum and discussion about the Holocaust? WHY should it be taught?

I have taught Elie Wiesel's heartbreaking book, Night, for years to my 9th graders and it is one of my most powerful units because students recognize the autrocities that were commited during the Holocaust and can relate to the young protagonist's misery. How would reading about Bruno effect an understanding of anything that happened in WWII Germany?

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.

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.

I again ask--how does this story add anything to the discussion of the Holocaust?

alisonwonderland | 6 comments i truly believe that this book is not meant to be literally about the Holocaust but a fable or morality tale into which we should each put ourselves. for example, are we naive about atrocities that occur around us? do we make choices of power or prestige that make us complicit with those atrocities? how do we see "the other", he who lives on the other side of the fence? do we share commonalities? do we understand the consequences of our actions? that is what i see as the powerful nature of this book.

message 8: by J-Lynn (last edited Feb 19, 2008 11:28AM) (new)

J-Lynn (JVanPelt) | 27 comments alisonwonderland,
I understand what you are saying, but don't think the book was well enough written to look at it as a morality tale.

Re: ARE WE NAIVE ABOUT ATROCITIES THAT OCCUR AROUND US? This is definitely a good discussion point and an important thing to talk about with kids. I think this book does a good job at demonstrating how we tend to only see our own existence.

However, RE:DO WE MAKE CHOICES OF POWER OR PRESTIGE THAT MAKE US COMPLICIT WITH THOSE ATROCITIES? HOW DO WE SEE "THE OTHER", HE WHO LIVES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE? DO WE SHARE COMMONALITIES? I agree that all of these are great discussion points, but they are not developed in the book. We don't learn enough about "the other," Bruno doesn't sympathize or, quite frankly, ever realize what is even going on on the other side of the fence. Bruno doesn't find commonalities, in fact, he often cuts Shmuel off when he starts to talk about what his life is like.

I think the book would have been much more powerful if the focuis was on developing an understanding between the two boys. But, as it stands, I just found it frustrating.

message 9: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I recently finished this book, and I was also disappointed... after hearing so many great things about it, I found Bruno's naiveté to be a major stumbling block. The funny thing is that I stayed away from this thread when I was thinking about reading it because I was worried about spoilers - meanwhile, I probably could have gotten some perspective regarding the book.

I also found the ending to be rather melodramatic.

Did you know that the book is being made into a movie? Here's the IMDB site if you want to check it out:

message 10: by Ken (new)

Ken Figures. Sometimes I think the better a book is, the more difficult it is to translate into a movie.

The flip side? The more terrible a book is, the EASIER it is to translate in into a movie. Hollywood will suck this drivel up (then disgorge it on unsuspecting audiences).

message 11: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I was wondering if they're going to keep the ending the same as it was in the novel... I don't want to include any spoilers here, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was changed. It doesn't seem like the type of ending that the American public would appreciate.

At the same time, it is the culmination of the novel. It'll be interesting to see if Hollywood stays true to it.

message 12: by J-Lynn (new)

J-Lynn (JVanPelt) | 27 comments Blah, blah, blah. Hollywood. There are so many amazing stories out there that could evoke empathy, passion, acceptance, understanding, etc. And they choose this book to adapt. All of my objections to the book will be magnified when it is in 10 ft X 30 ft visual form.

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