The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is a gripping story set during World War II, as the Nazis are killing the Jews by the thousands. Most of the German civilians are oblivious to what is going on, including Bruno, a nine-year-old boy whose father is a Nazi officer stationed at a concentration camp. To him, the Third Reich is saving the world from disaster. When his father gets promoted, Bruno and his family move to Out-With, a very dreary, desolate and boring place. When Bruno first arrives there, he sees many people in the distance, behind a very tall and sharp-looking fence. Who all have one thing in common: They are all wearing what Bruno thinks are striped pajamas. Bruno doesn’t know what’s really going on until he meets a Jewish boy named Shmuel, who opens his eyes to things that he never could’ve dreamed of. Things like discrimination, injustice and concentration camps. Bruno discovers the problems of the real world, and they’re shocking.
My recommended age group to read this book is ages ten and up because although Bruno is nine years old in the beginning of the book, there are still some pretty tough elements that can be hard to comprehend in this book. Also, The Boy in The Striped Pajamas has a very unexpected ending, so if you’re one of those people who always need happy endings, this is not a book for you. I, on the other hand, thought it was very powerful, and I thought that the ‘unexpected ending’ made the whole conflict seem more real and appalling to me.
My favorite character in this book was Shmuel, because his situation is very pitiful, but he’s also very mature, and he is a lot different from Bruno because he knows so much more about how the Jews are suffering.
If you are intrigued by Holocaust/WWII literature, this would be a good book to add to your reading list.