Book Review: ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’
‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ is a beautiful work of historical fiction and tells a tale of people’s lives in World War 2. This story is written by Irish author John Boyne and originally published on 5th January 2006.
The book revolves around protagonist, Bruno, a 9-year-old boy, living in a 5-floor house in Berlin, with his mum, dad, and sister, Gretel. Bruno loves his life in Berlin, with his 3 best friends, namely Karl, Daniel, and Martin. Since Bruno lives in such a big house, he usually slides down the banister that runs from the top floor to the bottom; an exercise which he likes very much. Bruno calls his sister a ‘HOPELESS CASE’, because of her annoying behaviour. Even though they argue and disagree on most of the things, from the inside, Gretel still loves her younger brother.
One day, when Bruno comes back from school, he gets to hear that he and his family are moving to a place outside Berlin, due to his father’s promotion. Bruno does not like their new house, but he does not show his unhappiness/ resentment as he detests getting a very serious ‘talking-to’ from his parents. The house is named ‘Out-with’, which Bruno finds very confusing to start with, but over time, gets familiar with it. Whenever he overlooks from his room’s window, he sees a wired fence and beyond that worn out, skinny people with downcast eyes in striped pyjamas. In order to find out more about them, he secretly sets out to do the thing he loves most, have an adventure. Through his interactions with the boy named Shmuel, Bruno gets to know why the people on the other side of the fence wear striped pyjamas, what they do, and what Bruno’s father’s job actually is. In the process, Bruno forms a covalent bond with Shmuel, a bond that he sacrifices everything for ! To see Bruno leaving everything behind, even his whole family to be with Shmuel is heart- wrenching!
This book is a special one, as it reminds us of horrors of World War 2, which are not spoken of much these days. Written through the eyes and perspective of a child, Bruno, this is an excellent work of historical fiction that talks about, in one way or another, Hitler’s dreadful plans for the Jews, how they were tortured to death and how difficult it was for them to live a normal life. Shmuel’s story is much related to many people who fell prey to the Holocaust, such as Anne Frank. How she lived her life in hiding for 2 years, is something I would dread to experience. The book also teaches us to be kind towards others, besides giving insight into what true friendship is all about.
“You’re my best friend, Shmuel,” Bruno said, “My best friend for life”. From the way I see this, the book deserves nothing but accolades, and in plenty.
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