‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boyne

BoyInStriped 

Fiction – paperback; Definitions; 224 pages; 2007.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is one of those commercially successful cross-over books, originally written for children but now read by adults, that has been lauded by the critics and nominated for countless awards. It even has its own wikipedia entry.

I knew little about the book when I bought it, save that it was about the Holocaust and was written by an Irishman. The blurb on the back gave even less away:

The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about. If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. (Though this isn’t a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence. We hope you never have to cross such a fence.

Initially, I thought the book was probably too simple for my tastes and wondered whether it was worth the effort. It didn’t take long for the short, sparse sentences and the repetitive nature of some of the phrases to wear thin. But once I got past the half-way mark, I began to feel soothed by the rhythm of the writing.

I also noted that the plot was not as straightforward as I might have thought and that there were little surprises dotted along the way. Of course, the biggest surprise — nay shock — is right at the end, although I won’t give it away. Let’s just say it’s a memorable and devastating one, and if you can reach the end without a big lump forming in your throat there may just be something wrong with you.

All in all, this is a simple book about big themes, and quite unlike any other Holocaust novel I have read before. The killer punch delivered in the final pages means I will be thinking about this story in the days, months and years to come…

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17 thoughts on “‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boyne

  1. I really liked this book. I thought his word choice both apt and a little mysterious – it kept that fable feel going throughout. I reviewed it late last year on my blog. If you’re interested I could find the link for you?

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  2. Nutmeg, the word choice was great. I got “Fury” straight away but I was almost near the end before I understood “Out-With”. Yes, do dig out your link, would love to read your thoughts on the book.

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  3. i loved this book but i thought it didnt have to end that way. it was so sad that i cried myself to sleep. i got the ‘fury’ straight away but then i realized with a shock that out-with is ‘auchwitz’. i didnt think it had to end the way it did though.

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  4. My teacher gave me this book to read and i found it really interesting i coulden’t put the book down i just kept reading it it had a good story line and it’s the best book i have read by far but when i got to the end i thought it was gonna be like all the endings of the books where they find his Shumael’s grandfaher and Bruno goes back to Berlin and lives happily ever after but what happened to them both at the end was really sad and i coulden’t stop thinking about had happened to them in the book for days it really did haunt my mind for days and i still think of it how they ended up marching with all the other Jewish prisoners in a gas chamber while looking for Shaemel’s grandfather.
    I rate this Book 10/10
    i recommend you read it!
    Cause i garentee you that it will be the best book you have ever read!.
    I just hope this author makes another book like this.
    I hope more authors make books like this.
    Well i’m off laters beh

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  5. I’m reading dis b0ok wiv my clasz andd we’re nearlyy finishh readinng it,, cann sumwunn tell me wat hapened iN the endd ??

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  6. I loved this book. i saw the movie to. but i liked the book better.
    i dont remember Bruno’s last name though.
    i lost my book. could anyone tell me??

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  7. Yeaah, bruno dug a hole under the fence and put the striped pyjamas on , then him and shmule went in a room wiv the oveer peeps and they all got poisoned ! :O

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  8. I love this book. We have been reading it in our English lessons but now i have been able to read it when it suits me. It is great.

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  9. I love this book it deals with alot of emotional issues.IT REALLY DESERVES TO BE A CLASSICAL BOOK OF ALL TIME.

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  10. Indeed it is. I visited it in August 1998 and found it rather chilling. I also visited nearby Birkenau, another camp, which was also very distressing to see.

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