The Boy In The Striped Pajamas: Book Review

The other day we were flipping through the Movies Based Upon Books Section on Netflix and I mentioned to my family that I haven’t read or seen the movie before. My mom goes on to say that she hasn’t either so she said that she would get the book for us to read during Christmas Break and she did just that. With everything that people said about the movie, I thought that it would be better than what it really was. Now, before you read any farther, you better be cautious of spoilers because they are just flowing out of me right now.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Title: The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

Author: John Boyne

Publisher: David Fickling Books

Released: September 12, 2006

Pages: 224 (Hardback)

Berlin, 1942 : When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

About the Author: John Boyne is an Irish novelist. He is the author of nine novels for adults and five novels for younger readers. His novels are published in over 50 languages. Boyne was born in Dublin, where he still lives. His first short story was published by the Sunday Tribune and in 1993 was shortlisted for a Hennessy Literary Award. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of East Anglia. He chaired the jury for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

My Review:

I went into this book with knowing very little about what all happened in it. All I knew is the fact that people loved the movie and it made them cry, it dealt with a small child, and it dealt with the Holocaust. I love Elie Wiesel’s Night which told the story from an inside source from the Holocaust. The book brought such a great insight to everything that happened and was written beautifully. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas did not do any justice to the whole subject.

The book doesn’t even talk about the Holocaust – only about how the Jews were separated from their families and they were treated horribly. Bruno’s dad was one of the head Generals in the Holocaust and he rarely talked about what he did. All this time, Bruno thought his dad was the good guy but in reality, he was the one helping Hitler, or “the Fury” as he is called in the book. Bruno makes friends with Shmuel, who is a Jew behind this fence in his backyard. The only reason that Bruno knows about everything is because of Shmuel and Gretel, his sister.

Bruno is supposed to be 9 years old and Gretel is 12 and 13 throughout the book. It might just be me but the two of them acted like they were 5 or 6. The was they talked, the way they acted, they way the behaved. I understand that it was during War World 2 and all but you could have at least had a little more mature children, especially with everything that Bruno has to go through.

As you all might know, my mom is a school librarian and she borrowed the book from the library. Something that is big in the school is something called a Lexile, which tells you how difficult a book is. According to the school, the book has a Lexile of 1080, which is a pretty high book since most books for middle schoolers is 700 – 800. This book did not seem that high. The book really didn’t include words that seem that higher leveled and really didn’t make you think that much. The book didn’t seem that advanced and was a really light and easy read.

The book was really unorganized and didn’t have a very structured plan. The book jumped back in time and told stories from that time but then the book would jump weeks or months ahead and it would get really confusing of what is going on in the weeks in between. I understand the book is written for younger kids but it was poorly organized in my opinion. 

This book seems to be written for 13 – 15 year old kids but in reality, I see kids under 12 enjoying the book more. Yes, it deals with the topic of the Holocaust but that doesn’t seem to be the whole entire plot. The books seems to deal with the friendship between two boys – two boys that aren’t supposed to be friends. It is shown throughout the whole book, even at the end. Bruno decides that he was going to go over to the other side of the fence to be with Shmuel. Bruno decides to stay with Shmuel, without warning or letters to his family, which I thought was a pretty stupid thing to do. I understand the fact that Bruno wants to be with Shmuel and all but after everything Bruno did to Shmuel with the Officers and all, why?

I actually quite enjoyed the Mother, Maria and Parvis, which I really didn’t think I would. The mother would do anything for her husband but she final grew tired of the whole things. Her husband was this big Commander but her she is, trying to be her own person by the end of the book. This is just my theory but the Mother has to be with the one Lieutenant because she was telling him that she finally had some time alone. I’m thinking that the only reason she wanted to go back to the house is her and the Lieutenant got into a fight or something. That might just be me though. Maria was one of the kindest people in the whole book. She had an answer to everything, which was one thing I loved. Maria didn’t care who you were, she still treated you the same way. She treated people with the same respect and wanted nothing in return for it. Parvis though, he had to be my favorite in the whole entire book. He treated them all like they were his family. He was a little slow but that was totally okay with me, but not some of the others in the book. Parvis’ story about being the doctor and all in his past life just broke my heart the whole time. These three topped all the other characters in the book.

Overall I would have to give this book a 2.5 out of 5. I understand that this book was aimed towards young kids to learn something about the Holocaust but I wish John Boyne would have done a little more research about the topic and used a few more techniques. I know most people enjoy this book a lot but I really don’t see what was so great about it.

The Movie:

Image result for the boy in the striped pajamas movie

Title: The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

Director: Mark Herman

Distributed By: Miramax

Released: September 12, 2008

Run Time: 94 Minutes

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is a fictional story that offers a unique perspective on how prejudice, hatred and violence affect innocent people, particularly children, during wartime. Through the lens of an eight-year-old boy largely shielded from the reality of World War II, we witness a forbidden friendship that forms between Bruno, the son of Nazi commandant, and Shmuel, a Jewish boy held captive in a concentration camp. Though the two are separated physically by a barbed wire fence, their lives become inescapably intertwined. The imagined story of Bruno and Shmuel sheds light on the brutality, senselessness and devastating consequences of war from an unusual point of view. Together, their tragic journey helps recall the millions of innocent victims of the Holocaust.

Have you read the book or seen the movie? What did you think about it? Do you like learning about stuff like war or anything in History? What is/was your favorite subject in school? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Happy Reading,

4 thoughts on “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas: Book Review

    1. I was hoping that the book would a lot better than what it was but it wasn’t. I watched the movie a few days after reading the book and really enjoyed the movie. Yah, hitting the “Post Comment” button on accident is totally part of the process as well 😂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s