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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas #1

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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If you start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy named Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter one.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2006

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About the author

John Boyne

58 books11k followers
I was born in Dublin, Ireland, and studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. In 2015, I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.

I’ve published 14 novels for adults, 6 novels for younger readers, and a short story collection. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas was a New York Times no.1 Bestseller and was adapted for a feature film, a play, a ballet and an opera, selling around 11 million copies worldwide.

Among my most popular books are The Heart’s Invisible Furies, A Ladder to the Sky and My Brother’s Name is Jessica.

I’m also a regular book reviewer for The Irish Times.

In 2012, I was awarded the Hennessy Literary ‘Hall of Fame’ Award for my body of work. I’ve also won 4 Irish Book Awards, and many international literary awards, including the Que Leer Award for Novel of the Year in Spain and the Gustav Heinemann Peace Prize in Germany. In 2015, I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of East Anglia.

My novels are published in 58 languages.

My 14th adult novel, ALL THE BROKEN PLACES, a sequel and companion novel to THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS, will be published in the UK on September 15th 2022, in the US and Canada on November 29th, and in many foreign language editions in late 2022 and 2023.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 35,440 reviews
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
February 25, 2010
As Michael Kors once sighed to a clueless designer on Project Runway: Where do I start?

Let's open with some descriptive words that sum up this book, and I will then go on to explain them in further detail: Patronizing. Insipid. Smarmy. Just plain bad.

Patronizing: I believe that to write good children's literature, you have to think that children are intelligent, capable human beings who are worth writing for - like Stephen King, who probably thinks kids are smarter than adults. The author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, on the other hand, clearly thinks that children are idiots. The main character, Bruno, is supposed to be nine years old, but compared to him Danny Torrance of The Shining (who was six) looks like a Mensa member. There's childlike naivety, and then there's Bruno, who is so stunningly unobservant and unperceptive that I actually started to wonder if he was supposed to be mentally deficient somehow. And he's not the only child who receives Boyne's withering scorn and condescension. Take this scene between Bruno and his sister Gretel, when they've just moved to their house at "Out-With" (as Bruno insists on calling it, despite being corrected many times and seeing the name written down) and are wondering how long they're going to stay there. Bruno's father, a commandant in charge of the camp, has told the kids that they'll be there "for the foreseeable future" and Bruno doesn't know what that means.
"'It means weeks from now,' Gretel said with an intelligent nod of her head. 'Perhaps as long as three.'"
Gretel is twelve years old, by the way. TWELVE. See what I meant about Boyne thinking kids are morons?

Insipid And Smarmy: this book was not meant for kids to read. It's meant for adults who know about the Holocaust already, so they can read it and sigh over the precious innocent widdle children's adorable misunderstanding of the horrible events surrounding them and how they still remain innocent and uuuuuuggggggghhhhh. There's a scene towards the end, where Bruno puts on a pair of the "striped pajamas" so he can visit his friend on the other side of the fence. Bruno has had lice, so his head is shaved. When he puts on the pajamas, the Jewish boy observes him and the narration commits the following Hallmark-worthy atrocity: "If it wasn't for the fact that Bruno was nowhere near as skinny as the boys on his side of the fence, and not quite so pale either, it would have been difficult to tell them apart. It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were all exactly the same really."


Just Plain Bad: This book is, technically, historic fiction, but I'm not putting it on my history shelf, because there is nothing historical in this book. Bruno is supposed to have grown up in Nazi Germany, the son of a high ranking SS officer, but based on his knowledge of everything, he's spent his entire nine years sitting inside with his eyes shut humming loudly while covering his ears. Okay, I get that he wouldn't know about the concentration camps - hardly anyone did at that point. But there are other things: Bruno consistently (and adorably!) mispronounces the Fuhrer as "the Fury" (I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE JOHN BOYNE), and doesn't recognize the following key words and phrases: Jews, Fatherland, Heil Hitler. What. The fuck. Okay, so maybe this kid's too young to be in Hitler Youth (his sister isn't though, but for some reason she's not in it either), but come on - he thinks "Heil Hitler" is just a polite way to end a conversation. A nine-year-old boy growing up in a military household in Nazi Germany doesn't know what Heil Hitler means.

All of this comes back to my original thesis: John Boyne thinks that children are idiots.

Look, Boyne: just because you don't understand anything (history, children, good writing) doesn't mean the rest of us are quite so useless. Go cash your checks for that awful movie adaptation they did of this book and never try to make a statement about anything ever again, please.

Read for: Social Justice in Young Adult Literature
Profile Image for Brandy.
Author 2 books120 followers
November 12, 2007
I hardly know where to begin bashing this book. Do I start with the 9-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister, who read about 6 and 8, respectively? The imperial measurements (miles, feet) despite the German setting? The German boy, raised in Berlin, who thinks that Der Führer is "The Fury" and Auschwitz is "Out-With," despite being corrected several times and seeing it written down? The other English-language idioms and mis-hearings, despite our being told that he speaks only German? And that he believes that "Heil Hitler!" is a fancy word for hello, because he understands neither "Heil" nor "Hitler"?

So maybe these are fussy issues, and I shouldn't trash the book on these minor linguistic flaws. Instead, I can start with the plot holes big enough to drive a truck through: that Bruno, whose father is a high-ranking official in "The Fury"'s regime, doesn't know what a Jew is, or that he's living next door to a concentration camp. Or that the people wearing the "striped pajamas" are being killed, and THAT's why they don't get up after the soldiers stand close to them and there are sounds "like gunshots." Or that there's a section of fence that is (a) unpatrolled and (b) can be lifted from the ground high enough to pass food and, eventually, a small boy through, AND that nobody would try to get OUT through this hole. Or that Bruno's friend Shmuel, a frail 9-year-old boy, would survive over a year in a Nazi camp. Or even the author's refusal to ever use the word "Auschwitz," in an effort to "make this book about any camp, to add a universality to Bruno's experience."

That last is from an interview with the author that appears at the end of the audio version. I can't speak to most of what he said, because it was a lot of "here are all the places that are hyping my book," but the worst part of it, to me, was where he was addressing criticisms: "there are people who complain that Bruno is too innocent, too naive, and they are trivializing the message of this book." Um, no. I'm not trivializing the message; I'm objecting to his trivializing of the Holocaust. I find his treatment of the Holocaust to be superficial, misleading, and even offensive.

As an audio recording, I'm pretty neutral. The narrator did the best he could with the material and there was some differentiation between the characters' voices, but the music that was added... some chapters ended with appropriately-somber music. Other chapters had no music at all. Sometimes the music appeared in the middle of a chapter.

Two other incidental notes: first, normally you can't say anything negative about a Holocaust-themed book without being an asshole, because the books are so tied in with the Holocaust itself. In this case, though, I feel like, due to the fictionalizing of it, the book is far enough removed from Auschwitz that it's okay to be negative about the book without being insensitive about the Holocaust. Second, this doesn't land on my "run away! Save yourself!" shelf, because that's more for books that are comically bad--books that I can bash with glee and mock with abandon. I can't find anything funny about what makes this book so bad; it's just plain offensive and shallow.
Profile Image for Peter.
5 reviews54 followers
November 11, 2013
"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" would easily top my list of "Worst Books about the Holocaust."

I am writing as one who was there -- I was once myself a boy in striped pajamas and am a survivor of six German concentration camps. This book is so ignorant of historical facts about concentration camps that it kicks the history of the Holocaust right in the teeth.

John Boyne's premise is that the nine-year old son of the commandant of Auschwitz, bored with his isolated life, takes walks to the fence surrounding this infamous camp and meets there a nine-year old inmate who is on the other side of the fence. The two boys become friends and continue meeting on a daily basis.

Here is some news for Mr. Boyne. The 10-ft high barbed wire fence surrounding each camp was electrified. Touch if once and you are fried. There was a no-man's land on each side of the fence; along the inside perimeter of the fence were guard towers; each tower was manned by an armed guard around the clock; each guard was responsible for one segment of the fence within his vision; it was his duty to prevent anyone from approaching the fence, either from the inside, or from the outside; he was under orders to shoot anyone he saw approaching the no-man's-land.

In addition, along the outside perimeter, prominent signs proclaimed, "STOP - Danger - High-Voltage Electricity." So that even a dense nine-year-old would get the message, a skull and cross-bones were pictured at the top of each sign.

Let me add this. A nine-year-old boy arriving in Auschwitz-Birkenau on a cattle train would take only a single walk in this camp: from the train to the gas chamber.

"The Boy in The Striped Pajamas" makes a mockery of these very basic facts. It is a fantasy that does untold damage to the cause of truth about the Holocaust. This book has only one purpose: to make a lot of money for the author and the publisher. And this purpose it accomplishes. The publisher recently proudly trumpeted in an ad in the New York Times: over one-million copies sold and still going strong. And that's not even counting the profits from the revolting movie based on this book.

Peter Kubicek
Author of "MEMORIES OF EVIL" -- a factual book about the Holocaust that will never make it on any list of best books about the Holocaust because my book tells it the way it was: there was nothing cute, nothing in any way benign about the concentration camps. These camps were about brutality, starvation, and sheer terror.
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
January 26, 2018

I didn't love this, but I did appreciate the fact that it had a very powerful message (and an ending I wasn't expecting at all). My feelings were definitely changed by the fact that the author describes the story as a fable. The abstractness makes a lot more sense in that way. Definitely an unforgettable read, nonetheless!
485 reviews139 followers
February 11, 2011
I seriously suggest you read about what happened to real children in the Holocaust. It won't fill your thoughts for many days or shock you; rather it will fill your LIFE and make you feel sick to the core of your being.

Paul Friedlander, himself a survivor, recounts in his recent highly praised book the incident of 90 Jewish infants all under the age of five, orphaned after their parents were murdered in a mass shooting.
These children were subjected to indescribable mistreatment for days.
Then they were individually hanged.
I read this with horror, revulsion and total disbelief.
(ref.The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939 - 1945)

Or the incident of the young German soldier participating in the evacuation of the patients in the hospital in the Warsaw Ghetto. In the presence of a distraught Jewish crowd of relatives and onlookers, patients were being thrown onto the backs of trucks.The babies were being thrown from the upper windows. The soldier requested and was given permission to catch the falling babies on his bayonet.
(ref. The Holocaust - the Jewish Tragedy by Martin Gilbert.
ISBN 0 00 637194 9 )

There are so many historical inaccuracies and ludicrous details in this totally implausible story of Boyne's eg. Bruno's ignorance of basics, impossible when he would have been in the Hitler Youth and the Nazi education system.This travesty of the Holocaust is called a 'fable' as if with all its faults, it has special claim on some gravitas, thus giving Boyne justification for this lame expose of racism.
I was a member of the Jewish Holocaust Committee here in Sydney for a while and once had to endure a young rabbi lecturing on how the Holocaust was God's punishment on the Jews. So there are fools to be found inside the club as well as outside it.

Not a single pure ethnic German child entered a gas chamber as part of the extermination of the Jews...although many died in Germany as part of the
pre-war killing of disabled and retarded children.When protests brought this program to a close the same staff were later sent to operate the gas chambers in the camps.

And for six million Jewish men, women and children there was no saviour.
This bitter pill is too much for some people to swallow.
Some, like the young rabbi, takes refuge in blaming the very victims;
others find refuge in sentimental fiction such as Boyne's which does no honour to these tragic, lost people. And today there are perverse forces abroad, from renowned historians to Catholic bishops, who would deny that the Holocaust ever took place or to an extraordinary lesser degree.They use every discrepancy of detail as well as lies to justify their denial. So for anyone touching on this subject it is vital and morally incumbent on them to GET THE FACTS RIGHT.

There is an overwhelming library of rivetting, emotional, inspiring and tragic Holocaust stories out there - all factual, which you may have already plunged into. Boyne may even have led you there. But finally Boyne just deserves to fade away.

P.S.The Oscar winning Foreign Language film of 1997, "Life is Beautiful", was also, not surprisingly, referred to as a 'fable'. It also is an implausible piece of Holocaust sentimentality and a stampede away from having to swallow the bitter pill of reality.

Profile Image for Federico DN.
393 reviews786 followers
June 25, 2022
Two innocent boys, and two very different worlds, separated by a not so infallible fence.

Berlin 1942, middle of WWII, beginnings of the Holocaust. Bruno is a little boy of barely nine years old, son of a very well standing german family. His life passes relatively uneventful until one day his father is appointed commander in a faraway region. Bruno, his sister Gretel and his parents are compelled to relocate to Out-With, to a much smaller house, forsaking family and friends, and sacrificing everything for the important rank promotion.

In this new house isolated from the rest of the world, Bruno finds a small window that allows him to see at the distance an incredibly large area with tiny little huts; and an endless number of tiny little figures dressed in a curious striped outfit. Mature, old people... and children. In a huge wire fenced field.

Excellent historical fiction novel. A must read alongside the Diary of Anne Frank. Two unique and different perspectives of a same tragedy. A novel about the cruelties of war, and the self invented differences that lead humanity to separate itself. Highly recommendable. Very powerful. Painful as few others.

Still remaining, the movie (2008).

[2006] [240p] [Historical] [Highly Recommendable] [Curious Bruno] [Innocent Shmuel] [Ending Alert] [Oh, the humanity!]

Dos niños inocente, y dos mundos muy diferentes, separados por un no tan infalible alambrado.

Berlín 1942, mediados de la segunda guerra mundial, principios del Holocausto. Bruno es un pequeño nene de escasos nueve años, hijo de una familia alemana de buen pasar. Su vida transcurre sin mayores problemas hasta que un día su padre es designado comandante en una región lejana. Bruno, su hermana Gretel y sus padres se ven obligados a reubicarse en Out-With a una casa más pequeña, abandonando familia y amigos en sacrificio de la importante promoción laboral.

En esta nueva casa aislada del mundo, Bruno encuentra una pequeña ventana que permite entrever a la distancia una enorme cantidad de pequeñas chozas; y un sinfin de pequeñas figuras vistiendo un curioso uniforme de rayas. Gente adulta, mayor... y niños. En un enorme campo alambrado.

Excelente novela histórica de ficciٕón. Un must para leer del tema, junto al Diario de Ana Frank. Dos perspectivas únicas y diferentes de una misma tragedia. Una novela sobre las crueldades de la guerra, y sobre las diferencias autoinventadas que llegan a separar la humanidad. Muy recomendable. Muy poderosa. Dolosoa como pocas.

Queda pendiente, la película (2008).

[2006] [240p] [Histórica] [Altamente Recomendable] [Curioso Bruno] [Inocente Shmuel] [Alerta de Final] [Oh, la humanidad!]
Profile Image for Rowan.
117 reviews224 followers
July 19, 2022
When I saw the film version at the cinema, the entire audience remained in their seats and sobbed into tissues as the credits rolled. I’ve never experienced anything like it since. With John Boyne finally releasing a much-anticipated sequel, I figured it was about time I read this!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a simple, yet powerful fable-like story. It was a quick read, but one that will remain with me, and one which I’m still thinking about. This is definitely a book that pulls at the heartstrings. A lump in the throat accompanied my reading for a large portion, particularly the end.

John Boyne succeeded in making me view the world through the eyes of a naïve, but curious and inquisitive nine-year-old again. He repeated numerous phrases and sentences throughout, some such as “Out-With” and “The Fury”, adding childhood innocence to words that stand for anything but. The book certainly picked up once Bruno (the main character) befriended Shmuel (a boy in striped pajamas that lived over the ‘fence’).

“Bruno was sure that he had never seen a skinnier or sadder boy in his life but decided that he had better talk to him.”

Boyne created tension well; most notably the kitchen scene featuring Shmuel, Bruno and the evil Lieutenant Kotler. It was anxiety-inducing and a sense of foreboding grew throughout the book. My heart ached whenever the likes of Shmuel or Pavel were mentioned. I couldn’t help but wonder about the back story of Pavel in particular.

“Don’t make it worse by thinking it’s more painful than it actually is.”

Despite having seen the film, there were enough small differences to keep things interesting – most notably a head shaving scene and the ending. I actually thought the film ending was more powerful and emotional than the book's, which despite also packing a punch, tapered off in comparison.

There are plenty of historical inaccuracies, yes, but this is fiction after all, and aimed at younger readers. If this book acts as a stepping stone into learning about the Holocaust more fully, then that will always be a good thing.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a book that I wish was around during my school years. Boyne has crafted an intelligent, yet simple story whose use of metaphors and various themes cause the reader to pause and reflect. Books like this are relevant more than ever. I’m keen to read the sequel.

“It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were all exactly the same really.”
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,173 followers
September 15, 2017
A powerful concept, but very poorly written (even allowing for the young adult target audience) - and one of a tiny number of books I can think of that was better in the film version.


Bruno is 9 and lives in Berlin in 1943 with his parents and 12 year old sister. They are wealthy and his father is an important soldier who is promoted to be the Commandant at Auschwitz. The trick of the story is that Bruno doesn't realise the horror of what goes on behind the barbed wire, where everyone wears striped pyjamas, even when he befriends a boy of the same age at a corner of the camp.

Although his father can be strict and distant, Bruno is unfailing in his trust in the goodness of his father. In the film, there was at least a gradual, if reluctant, dawning of doubt about his father and all he stood for, but that doesn't happen in the book; the themes of family, friendship and trust are barely touched on.

Implausible Ignorance

The main problem is that it's told from Bruno's viewpoint, and he is ridiculously naive and ignorant for the son of a senior Nazi.

Not knowing, and not wanting to know, the horror of what was happening is entirely understandable (especially when a parent is involved).

However, he hasn't heard of "the Fatherland", thinks the Fuhrer is called The Fury (throughout), that Auschwitz is called "Out With" and that "Heil Hitler" means "goodbye"! Yet we're meant to believe that he's the 9 year old son of a senior Nazi! His father had clearly been neglecting his duty to train the next generation of Hitler youth.

And anyway, the puns wouldn't work in German.

What is even more insulting to readers is that Boyne has responded to this widespread point of criticism by saying that anyone who thinks the boy is too naive is denying the holocaust! (See Kelly H. (Maybedog) comment on Oct 02, 2012 and subsequent ones).

Other Flaws

* Surely some aspects of Schmuel's plight would have been glaringly obvious (emaciated, shorn hair, possibly lice-ridden, ragged clothes etc)?
* There are several stock phrases that are trotted out annoyingly often ("a Hopeless Case", "mouth in the shape of an O", "if he was honest as he always tried to be").
* They talk of miles not kilometres and feet not centimetres, which might not matter were the rest of it more realistic.
* Just occasionally, and completely out of character, Bruno talks in an unnaturally adult way ("If you ask me we're all in the same boat. And it's leaking", and a nasty person who "always looked as if he wanted to cut someone out of his will").

It might have worked better if Bruno had been 5 or 6, but I suppose the target audience would have been less willing to read it, so the result is a book that isn't really suitable for any age group. What a waste.

Postscript 1

Arising from Kelly Hawkins' review:

Boyne says:
I think the most frequent criticism of the book in the years since it’s been published is that Bruno is too naive. People say: “He’s verging on the stupid – how could he not know?” For all the criticisms you can make, I always feel that’s the wrong one because he’s grown up in a house with his father wearing a uniform, so I always think why would be question it? There wouldn’t be any motivation for him to suddenly turn around… if your father came home wearing a doctor’s uniform every day, you wouldn’t turn around one day and ask: “Why are you wearing that?”

So, Bruno is kind of representing that blindness, in a way. When he goes to the fence, and when he asks that question, he is kind of representing the rest of us who are trying to understand the Holocaust and find some answers to it. Also, when the camps were liberated, the world was surprised through 1945 and 1946. The majority of the Holocaust had taken place over four years and, granted, it was a different information age but I still maintain that in those sorts of movies, the naivety is appropriate. It’s based on real life.

From: http://www.indielondon.co.uk/Books-Re...

Elsewhere, he is quoted as saying that naivety and complacency were two of the main reasons the Holocaust occurred (http://yareviews.wikispaces.com/The+B...).

I find that a very unsatisfying defence. It answers why people don't want to know the horrors (which I fully acknowledge), but does not begin to tackle Bruno's specific ignorance of common words related to the Third Reich.

Postscript 2, October 2015

His new book has a similar title and another Nazi theme - with Hitler himself this time: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain. I won't be reading that, but I suspect it will cause similar controversy.

Postscript 3

See this excellent review by a survivor of Nazi concentration camps. Boyne (posting as John) responded to some of the criticisms:

Postscript 4, 14 May 2017

In today's Sunday Times, the Prime Minister Theresa May was asked by a 19-year old in her constituency, "Has your thinking ever changed because of a novel?"
She replied:
"A book that brought something home to me was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. It is a very, very cleverly written book and a very well-written book, and what it brings home is the absolute horror of the Holocaust."
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,397 followers
September 16, 2023
"When he closed his eyes, everything around him just felt empty and cold, as if he was in the loneliest place in the world. The middle of nowhere."

*May 2021 Re-read

One of the worst fictional sister characters. Gretel, you're really annoying. Exactly a Hopeless Case.

Maria's character is memorable. She's grateful and I really appreciate such characters in stories.

But you know the most memorable character in the entire story is? The one who peels potatoes. Pavel. I will always have a soft spot for this character.

The complicated father character is something I want to learn more about.

And another most hateful fictional character ever? Don't let me talk about Lieutenant Kotler. Apart from the highly hateful behaviour, I do not forgive someone who are cruel towards animals. Can he just disappear in my next reread? I just cannot stand this character.

Real easy to start and finish in one sitting.

This was a really good read. I couldn't help getting images of the movie adaptation that I have watched a long time ago.
I loved everything about this book.
I loved the fact that this book made me love some of the characters so much as well as hate a few hateful characters to the core.
I thought this book would make me cry buckets and buckets but I didn't.
Actually it clutched my whole being. And I just had to keep on reading it till the last page as I couldn't stop reading it.
Yes, it is this interesting.
The characters were so alive and unique on their own.
Bruno and Shmuel. Your innocence and friendship will be etched forever in my soul.
One of my most favourite classics so far.
Planning to read more John Boyne👍
So worth it!
Highly recommended👍
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,321 followers
September 3, 2017
There are plenty of insightful reviews on this piece of sensationalist, badly written, idiotic Disneyfication of the Holocaust on Goodreads. I don't have anything to add to the criticism, except that I would love to see it taken off the curriculum in schools.

Here are my replacement suggestions:

Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw

And of course for more mature students, I recommend Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel and other authentic witness accounts.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is a shameless money-making machine without writing skill or depth, without nuance or finesse, without basic knowledge of history or children's levels of understanding at age 9, and without the slightest ethical guidelines.

The target group is unfortunately a generation of parents, teachers and children who have lost touch with complex historical and linguistic knowledge and who need a babyish, fictionalised, shockingly inaccurate version of the Second World War to stay focused - and that is unacceptable in my opinion. Instead of giving in to the lower level of comprehension, we need to put in the extra effort to be able to read on the same level as generations of children before! We can't afford to lose the literacy fight, as it means losing the fight for historical knowledge and distinctions!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
June 3, 2019
quick reread because, lets face it, im high-key obsessed with john boyne. this is my seventh JB book in less than a month. when i hit my tenth, someone please stage an intervention. lol.

i first read this years ago, so i forgot just how innocent the perspective of this story is. which i think makes it even more haunting. we, as humans, are not born with hatred; its something we learn and acquire throughout life. and what a horrible thing that is. to see how carefree a child can be in the most horrific of times is so heartbreaking, because it shows he doesnt have to capacity to see how truly monstrous humanity can be. this story is definitely one to make your mind reflect and your heart ache.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Rebecca.
265 reviews275 followers
August 4, 2022
“Very slowly he turned his head back to look at Shmuel, who wasn't crying anymore, merely staring at the floor and looking as if he was trying to convince his soul not to live inside his tiny body anymore, but to slip away and sail to the door and rise up into the sky, gliding through the clouds until it was very far away.''

Nine year old Bruno has to leave his home in Berlin and move with his family to a place called Out-With for his father's new job. Bruno is terribly homesick and he starts to wonder about the sad people in striped pyjamas he can see on the other side of the fence. One day he decides to go exploring and he meets Shmuel, who is sitting near the fence separating the two sides. They start talking and eventually Bruno's homesickness dissapears as they become good friends with every passing day.

A story of childhood innocence caught in the unforgiving clutches of war, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas will make you brim with emotions with it's simple words, effortless humor and captivating narration. Although a work of fiction, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is so poignant because the backdrop of the story is real. The war and the holocaust are both real. This added a layer of darkness to the book. The story was made all the more touching because it was told from a child's perspective. A child who has no idea what's going on in the world around them, who makes friends with someone without thinking about their identity, religion or race.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is written in such a beautiful innocent way and it made me feel so many emotions. A wonderful piece of historical fiction.

Highly Recommend.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,164 reviews639 followers
December 1, 2010
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is truly an amazing yet daunting novel that I will never forget. The author John Boyne did a masterful job of depicting the setting in such vivid detail and exposing the events in a manner that I felt a constant emotional pull as the story unfolded and impending doom lingered on the horizon.

I was recommended this novel a while back while reading The Book Thief, but after finishing that story and experiencing such deep sadness, I knew I couldn’t jump into another novel about the Holocaust for quite some time. I’m glad I waited because as with other works that cover this topic, distance and perspective is key. I feel the author did a grand job of juxtaposing two resounding themes in such a flawless manner; one being of the evil that was the Holocaust; against the second theme that of the innocence of a child.

I thought it was brilliant of Boyne to tell the story from the perspective of a nine year old German boy as you experience the events of this abominable and unthinkable time in history as a mere complicit bystander, which ultimately leaves you with a sense of hopelessness.

The story unfolds the day Bruno arrives home to discover his family is moving from Berlin to Auschwitz where his father will serve as a Commandant for the concentration camp. Bruno is forced to leave his three best friends for life and discovers that life in Auschwitz is lonely and desolate. All that changes the day he meets a boy his exact age and they begin to forge a friendship over the course of year. However, as much as he finds he and Schmuel have in common, living on opposite sides of the fence proves to have a devastating consequence to their friendship.

After completing this book, I did some research on the author and the novel and found that he not only received well deserved praise for this book, but also harsh criticism. As with any piece of literature, when words are committed to page and presented to an audience for their interpretation there will be varying degrees of acceptance and backlash. Couple that with such a sensitive topic and you’re bound to get a reaction. Well, my hats off to John Boyne for tackling a story through a unique perspective and presenting a poignant fable that as a reader I willingly suspended my reality and experienced the events in a way that exposed my emotions and feelings to such a raw level. Well done IMHO.
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 18 books1,591 followers
November 14, 2020
I did enjoy this book although not as much as some others. It’s a gruesome and sad topic told through the point of view of an innocent little boy a great concept and expertly executed. The author does a wonderful job in the voice of the young boy. The language and syntax are adult with enough smatterings of the child’s perceptions and reflections and word choice to make it real. Excellent, job here. The author also doesn’t beat the reader over head with descriptions or facts and gives a great deal of credit to the reader to understand and figure out what is happening. Calling the man, The Fury is an excellent example as well as The Out With. Amazing creativity. This creativity is in part what held me in the story. I will definitely read more by this author and recommend this book.
David Putnam Author of The Bruno Johnson Series.
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,825 followers
November 8, 2008
I'll give it this much. Few books have caused me to actually shake SHAKE in anger. Wow. I think I need to go boil my eyeballs for a while. What was the author thinking?
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,255 reviews2,297 followers
September 17, 2017

Lincoln's doctor's dog. An archaic reference in the publishing industry to the notion that the way to ensure a book is a bestseller is to write about Lincoln, dogs, or doctors. This prompted one author to title his book which is about publishing in the 1930s Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog.

- From www.metaphordogs.org

Maybe Lincoln, doctors and dogs have gone out of fashion; but children, the Holocaust and friendship are still the rage. So the sure-fire formula for creating a bestseller is to write a story about children’s friendship during the Holocaust…
…even if you don’t know the first thing about it.

The Boy in Striped Pyjamas is the heart-warming (read “emotionally manipulative”) story of the doomed friendship between two pre-teen boys, born on the same day (one Jew and one the son of a Nazi) and its inevitable tragic conclusion. Yes, that’s right: get your handkerchiefs here, folks.

When I review a book, I look at both the medium and the content. Sometimes, you will find a great story which is badly written: at other times, a story which is only so-so will be made palatable through great prose. Sometimes you have both, and the book becomes really enjoyable. And when the medium and the content are so aptly intertwined to be inseparable, you have a truly great book.

Very rarely, you have the misfortune to encounter a really abominable story which is abysmally written into the bargain – this happened to me with this book. The only good thing I can say about it is that it is a very fast read.

Now for the analysis.

The Background

This book is historical fiction (yes, yes, I know that the author has claimed it is a fable situated in the time of the Holocaust: but unfortunately, the Holocaust is history) yet it pays no heed to historical accuracy. Auschwitz, according to my knowledge, had no children – they were sent to gas chambers the moment they arrived. Yet here we have a camp which is literally crawling with kids, almost like a kindergarten.

We also have a German child Bruno, who despite being the son of a high-ranking Nazi officer who is very close to Hitler, does not know about Aryans, Jews and the concentration camps. Agreed, he may not be aware of the atrocities going on in those places: but in the real world, he would have been inducted into the fairy tales about Aryan supremacy and the “Jewish problem”. In the book, Bruno remains blissfully ignorant about all until the end. He almost seems mentally challenged.

My knowledge about Auschwitz comes from reading history books only, but as far as I know, the camps were guarded by electrified fences and patrolled heavily across the clock. It would not have been easy for somebody just to lift up the barbed wire and crawl in. And how was Schmuel (the Jewish boy) able to constantly evade the guards and come to the same spot at the fence where it was loose at the bottom? (Yeah, it’s a fable, I know: maybe the exigencies of plot also had to do with the historical manipulation?)


Bruno is easily one of the most annoying protagonists ever created. Naiveté one can understand – it is difficult to understand outright stupidity. The boy simply refuses to see what happens in front of his eyes. Even if he has not been indoctrinated (impossible, as mentioned earlier, in Nazi Germany), he would have picked up much more. Children do.

Most of the other characters are pasteboard, including Schmuel, the Jewish kid, put there as props to support the plot and move it along. They are all one-dimensional other than the servant Maria and the Jewish doctor-turned-waiter Pavel. But they serve only to fill the space around Bruno.

The Writing

I could have forgiven Mr. Boyne for all these historical blunders and failures in characterisation, had he written good prose. But that is the most terrible part of the book – the prose is puerile.

First, the repetition. Bruno’s mouth forms an “O” and his hands stretch out at his sides whenever he is surprised, which is quite often: ultimately I started picturing him as a cartoon stick figure I used to draw as a kid. We are told that his sister Gretel is a Hopeless Case every time she is mentioned. The same with Father’s office being Out Of Bounds At All Times And No Exceptions… I could go on and on.

As a teen, I used to watch Hollywood war movies in which all Germans spoke English. While I could understand that this gimmick was required to avoid subtitles, sometimes they spoke English with a German accent… maybe to highlight their “German-ness” … this I found ridiculous. I had the same feeling about the puns Boyne used in this novel (“Fury” for Fuhrer and “Out-with” for Auschwitz). I don’t even know whether they will work in German.

However, the biggest problem was the child’s POV. It’s just idiotic… an adult talking baby talk and trying to imitate a child. Once in a while, the adult pops out from behind the visage (“we are all in the same boat, and it’s leaking”). It’s just tiresome.

The narrative was problematic. Half the time, I was not sure whether the author was writing an adult’s novel with a child’s viewpoint, or a mature novel for children – it fails on both counts. As I said before, the child’s POV does not work, and even with all the toned-down violence it’s not a suitable novel for children.

And plot holes… don’t get me talking about them! From the loose fence under which one can crawl through, the story jumps from hole to hole till it drops into the biggest hole of them all, the tragic finale. By that time, Boyne is pushing all the emotional buttons, trying to bring the tears on at full throttle… but the real tragedy here is the death of literature.

I understand that this book is a bestseller, and I can understand the reasons. I regret to say that this seems to me like adroit marketing of human tragedy… successful in this case.
Profile Image for Bibliophile.
760 reviews41 followers
June 5, 2009
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a Holocaust “fable” by the Irish writer John Boyne, in which a nine-year-old German boy named Bruno arrives at Auschwitz (or as the novel coyly and annoyingly calls it “Out-With”) when his father is named as the camp’s new commandant. Bruno is incredibly naïve (to the point where I began to wonder whether he might not be mentally retarded, in which case he would most likely have been murdered under the Nazi euthanasia program long before the timeline of the book, thus sparing us this novel!) and thinks that the men in the striped pajamas whom he can see from his upstairs window are all on vacation, until he meets another boy (in the striped pajamas) named Schmuel and befriends him.

Apparently, calling this book a “fable” precluded any attempt at historical accuracy or psychological acuity on the author’s part. First, the premise that a nine-year-old boy in Nazi Germany wouldn’t know who the Führer was or what Heil Hitler meant is absolutely ludicrous (as is his ridiculous “mishearing” of Führer as “Fury”, which only works in English and not in German, where the word for "fury" is "Zorn" or "Wut"!) Bruno, at nine, is one year shy of mandatory membership in the Hitler-Jugend, and his sister Gretel, at 12, would have been in the BDM for the previous TWO years and moreover the children of a high-ranking SS officer would absolutely have known who Hitler was and not mixed up his name. So that gave me pause from about page 5 on. Bruno would be marginally more believable as a four- or five-year-old but then John Boyne wouldn’t have been able to give him a Jewish counterpart. Even though there were some – VERY FEW! – little children who managed to survive Auschwitz, the chances that a five-year-old would have done so would be much smaller than even a nine-year-old’s capacity to survive the initial selections and the work that was meant to slowly kill the inmates.

Then add in all the other implausibilities such as not Bruno's not knowing what “Jews” were or even the word "Jew", when Bruno would have been assaulted by propaganda against Jewish people virtually since his birth in 1934! Apparently, Bruno also doesn’t know what an air-raid is, even though he’s lived through them. REALLY? Then there is the part where the fence at Auschwitz is not only not electrified, and doesn’t have guards and guarddogs, but even has a hole at the bottom. PLEASE! People didn’t wander in and out of Auschwitz at will, or it would have been a very different place! Boyne’s Nazis read like Colonel Klink in terms of their planning, not like the highly efficient mass-murderers they were. And let’s not get started on how Schmuel apparently has the ability to mysteriously vanish from the constant Appells and the backbreaking labor that’s probably the only reason he’s still alive. And more trivially, Bruno wouldn't be reading Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island - he'd be much more likely to be reading Karl May!

All of my criticisms make me think that Boyne did absolutely no research on German history, the German language, Nazis, the Holocaust or Auschwitz, and I'm beyond irritated to find out that this book is being touted as "the new Diary of Anne Frank" and indeed, replacing that work for kids in some schools. This book trivializes the Holocaust and the murder of millions by turning these things into a feeble allegory about the universality of ethnic hatred and positing that all we really need are two boys who can crawl under the fences to each other. Blech! I don’t understand why Boyne chose the Holocaust as its setting, as the novel says nothing meaningful about the Holocaust at all, its maudlin chocolate-box sentimentality (UGH, THE ENDING!) and simplistic narration in fact undercut the idea that Germans were willfully blind to what was being done in their name. Bruno’s not just ignorant; he’s actually stupid. Perhaps the story would have worked from the perspective of, say, Bruno’s mother, and her blindness to what her husband was doing because his work assured them of a comfortable existence. But then again, I’m not sure anything could have saved this pretentious twaddle!

Save your money and buy the non-fiction The Diary of Anne Frank or Night by Elie Wiesel, or if you’re set on a fictional tale about the Holocaust, then choose The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which is a hell of a lot more believable even if it is narrated by Death himself!
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews42 followers
April 27, 2022
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne

Bruno is a 9-year-old boy growing up during World War II in Berlin. He lives with his parents, his 12-year-old sister Gretel and maids, one of whom is called Maria. After a visit by Adolf Hitler, Bruno's father is promoted to Commandant, and the family has to move to "Out-With" because of the orders of "The Fury" (Bruno's naive interpretation of the word "Führer").

Bruno is initially upset about moving to Out-With (in actuality, Auschwitz) and leaving his friends, Daniel, Karl and Martin. From the house at Out-With, Bruno sees a camp in which the prisoners wear "striped pyjamas" (prison clothes). One day, Bruno decides to explore the strange wire fence. As he walks along the fence, he meets a Jewish boy named Shmuel, who he learns shares his birthday.

Shmuel says that his father, grandfather, and brother are with him on this side of the fence, but he is separated from his mother. Bruno and Shmuel talk and become very good friends, although Bruno still does not understand very much about Shmuel and his side of the fence. Nearly every day, unless it's raining, Bruno goes to see Shmuel and sneaks him food. As he visits Shmuel more and more, and Shmuel gets more and more skinny, Bruno's naivete is proved, as he never realizes he is living beside a concentration camp.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سوم ماه سپتامبر سال2014میلادی

عنوان: پسری با پیژامه‌ ی راه راه: یک حکایت؛ نویسنده: جان بوین ؛ مترجم: پروانه فتاحی؛ تهران: چاپ نخست: نشر چشمه؛ سال1392؛ چاپ دیگر: نشر هیرمند‏‫، سال‏‫‬‏1393؛ ‬در193ص؛ شابک9789644083549؛ چاپهای دوم و سوم سال1395؛ در189ص؛ چاپ چهارم سال1396؛ شابک9789644083549؛ ‬موضوع داستانهای نوجوانان از نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده21م

عنوان: پسرکی با پیژامه‌ ی راه‌راه؛ نویسنده: جان بوین؛ مترجم: هرمز عبداللهی؛ تهران نشر چشمه، سال‏‫1393؛ در195ص؛ ‬شابک9786002292025؛ چاپ دوم سال1394؛

بعضی چیزها نشسته اند و میخواهند کشف شوند، بعضی دیگر را هم بهتر است به حال خود رها کرد؛ «برونو»ی نه ساله پرسشهای بسیاری در ذهن دارد؛ پیشوا کیست؟ چرا آنها را مجبور کرد خانه ی قشنگشان را در «برلین» ترک کرده، و به جای پرت بروند؟ آدمهای پیژامه پوش آنسوی سیمهای خاردار که هستند؟ بزرگترها توضیح قانع کننده ای نمیدهند؛ بنابراین «برونو» دلش میخواهد به تنهایی دست به اکتشاف بزند، و پاسخ پرسشهایش را پیدا کند؛ یک دوست تازه بیابد، پسری با تاریخ تولد یکسان با خودش، پسری پیژامه پوش؛ اما چرا آنها هیچوقت نمیتوانند با هم بازی کنند؟

نقل نمونه متن: (فصل یک: کشف «برونو»؛ یک روز بعد از ظهر وقتی «برونو» از مدرسه به خانه آمد، با کمال تعجب دید خدمتکارِ همیشه سر به زیرشان «ماریا» در اتاق خواب او ایستاده، و دارد تمام وسایلش، حتی وسایل کاملاً شخصی را، که دور از چشم همه مخفی کرده بود، از قفسه ها بیرون میآورد، و در چهار جعبه ی بزرگ چوبی میگذارد؛ «برونو» تا جاییکه میتوانست مودبانه پرسید: «داری چه کار میکنی؟» البته از دیدن او لا به لای وسایلش خوشحال نبود، ولی مادرش همیشه به او میگفت که باید با «ماریا» با احترام حرف بزند، و در صحبت کردن با او از رفتار پدر پیروی نکند؛ «به وسایل من دست نزن.»؛ «ماریا» سرش را تکان داد، و به راه پله ی پشت سر او اشاره کرد، که مادر «برونو» همان لحظه سر رسیده بود؛ او زنی قدبلند بود، که موهای قرمزش را با تور، پشت سرش جمع کرده بود، و با حالتی عصبی دستهایش را به هم میمالید، انگار چیزی در کار بود، که نمیخواست درباره اش حرف بزند، یا نمیخواست آن را باور کند؛ «برونو» به طرف مادر دوید و گفت: «اینجا چه خبر است مامان؟ ماریا وسط وسایل من چه میکند»؛ مادر گفت: «دارد آنها را جمع میکند.»؛ «برونو» پرسید: «جمع میکند؟» به سرعت حوادث چند روز گذشته را مرور کرد، تا ببیند آیا خطایی از او سر زده، و یا چیزی بر زبان آورده، که اجازه ی گفتنش را نداشته، که به خاطر آن بخواهند او را به جای دیگری بفرستند؛ هیچ چیز به فکرش نمیرسید؛ در واقع طی چند روز گذشته، رفتارش با همه کاملاً خوب بود، و اصلاً یادش نمیآمد که شیطنتی کرده، یا جایی را به هم ریخته باشد؛ دوباره پرسید: «برای چی؟ مگر من چه کار کرده ام؟»؛ ولی مادرش داشت به طرف اتاق خودش میرفت؛ پیشخدمتشان «لارس» آنجا داشت وسایل او را جمع میکرد؛ مادر آهی کشید و دستش را با ناامیدی در هوا تکان داد، برگشت و به طرف پله ها رفت؛ «برونو» هم دنبال او رفت، تا جواب سوالش را بگیرد؛ با اصرار پرسید: «چی شده؟ میخواهیم از اینجا برویم؟»؛ مادر گفت: «بیا طبقه ی پایین، آنجا صحبت میکنیم.»؛ به سمت اتاق بزرگ ناهارخوری رفتند، جایی که پیشوا هفته ی پیش با آنها غذا خورده بود.)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 15/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 06/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Baba.
3,616 reviews985 followers
April 22, 2022
A wonderful little gem of a book… best described by the Guardian - "A small wonder of a book… A Particular historical moment, one that cannot be told too often."
Inside Auschwitz, from the viewpoint of the Commandant's nine year old son, and the amazing friendship he has with another boy, a boy in striped pajamas. 8 out of 12.

2012 read
Profile Image for Al Bità.
377 reviews41 followers
January 3, 2019
There is nothing to learn from this book. There is much to dislike. From certain perspectives, it can even be said to be detestable.

First of all, there is the authorial conceit that the work is written from the perspective of a child. The worst example of this come in the use of euphemisms for the Fuhrer ('the Fury') and for Auschwitz ('Out With') which become increasingly irritating as the work progresses. Bruno's 'difficulty' with these words is somehow supposed to charm us, and apparently gives the reader 'in the know' a soft, patronising glow which is presumably there to create a certain kind of sympathy for Bruno. It is interesting to note that Bruno apparently had no difficulty with the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas's name of Schmuel (maybe he could have referred to him as the 'mule'?). The same tweeness is in the description of the prison garb as 'striped pyjamas', although that is less irritating. It is really pushing the envelope to assume that Bruno is as naive as depicted. At age 8/9 he would have been in school, and subject to the indoctrination of the Hitler Youth; and he certainly would have been fully aware of not only Hitler, but how to pronounce Fuhrer!

Indeed, it is this apparent ignorance of even the most basic things about Hitler's Germany, and it's attitude to Jews, that would have been brainwashed into the minds of German Youth, that is hardest to come to grips with. The author's 'childlike' writing permits him to draw several obscuring veils over the whole question. Even at the end, as Bruno and Schmuel go hand in hand into the 'darkness' and 'disappear' there is really nothing to indicate what happened to them. A child reading this, without any awareness of the horrors of Auschwitz, could be forgiven for believing simply that they 'disappeared' into some mysterious unknown. Thus despite its cutesy language, the book is obviously intended to be read by adults who presumably DO know what happened to them; and that fact alone makes the writing condescending and patronising to say the least.

Since the reader is presumed to know these things, they will also know that the situation described in the book could never have happened. There is sufficient doubt whether any 8/9 year-old child would have ever survived past the first few hours at Auschwitz, except as possible 'medical experiment' subjects; it is hard to believe that Schmuel could have consistently been able to meet Bruno for the period of a whole year without being discovered and dealt with; and in any case, would he really have had access to a depot where other 'striped pyjamas of Bruno's size were stored?... And, by the way, isn't it lucky that Schmuel speaks German? Had he been from some other country and spoken a different language, who knows how the story might have gone?

These are just some of the many irritations to be found in the book. The author has tried to justify it by arguing that the story is a fable, and that these things don't matter. But if it is a fable, then fables usually teach a moral of some kind. What is the moral in this story? Don't trust in the friendship of Jews? Innocence and ignorance is no protection for awful things to happen to you? The fact that people feel saddened by the ending, or even shocked by it, is even more repellent: the sadness seems to be reserved for poor, innocent, ignorant Bruno, who goes to his death still innocent, and still ignorant. Because of the 'hiding' of the reality of the Auschwitz atrocities, the whole situation regarding Schmuel and the other victims seems to disappear, just as Schmuel and Bruno do. Sad, isn't it?

I cannot help but feel deep repulsion towards this 'fable'. That such a deeply offensive approach is somehow apparently easily disregarded because of a twee authorial trick of using sweet, sugary language, and helps make it such a popular, 'safe' book (no nasties crawling about here!) makes me despair at the dulling of any critical facilities or acumen on behalf of the public who love it. The book is inane, badly written, historically inaccurate, lacking in any sense of moral teaching (no one in the book 'learns' anything, or even changes their attitude to anything) and is hardly inspiring. It is banal.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,321 reviews2,142 followers
November 11, 2017
I have actually sat for five full minutes gazing at a blank page and wondering what to say about this book. Words don't usually fail me!
It does of course deal with a very painful and shocking part of our history and there are criticisms about some alterations to the true facts. However The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is obviously intended for the younger end of the young adult range and the presentation needs to be fairly simplistic. Boyne himself describes it as a fable, that is a fiction story with a moral, and I think that is a good description.
Writing from the point of view of the very naïve nine year old Bruno is very effective and makes the reader work a little harder to sort out events. I was several pages in before it suddenly dawned on me that the Fury was the Fuhrer but I was a bit quicker to identify Out With.
That ending is so very, very sad.
And then the final paragraph which reads like something from a fairy tale when it was so totally the opposite:

"And that's the end of the story about Bruno and his family. Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age."
September 2, 2019
“And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?”

Uf... vamos a ver, tengo muchos problemas con este libro. Pero, antes que nada, les diré que El Niño con el Pijama de Rayas relata la historia de Bruno, un chico de nueve años, hijo del gran Comandante de Auschwitz durante el régimen de Hitler en la Alemania nazi, y el cómo conoce y se vuelve amigo de Shmuel, un niño judío que está dentro del campo de concentración.

Mi primer problema se centra en que sentí, durante todo el libro, que el autor retrataba a Bruno como un niño tonto. Muchas veces enmascaran sus actitudes en la ingenuidad, pero hay un límite para ello. ¿Cómo es posible que un niño de nueve años, que ha vivido toda su vida rodeado de soldados de la SS y cuyo padre es un gran comandante nazi, no sepa qué significa "heil Hitler" y lo confunda con un saludo amistoso? ¿Y que, siendo de una familia tan cercana al régimen, no sepa lo que es un judío? ¿Y qué me dicen de esos momentos en los que ve, a través de su ventana, cómo soldados del campo de concentración le disparan a los prisioneros, que caen al suelo, y en su mente piensa "ay, se fueron a dormir"? ¿Y si hablamos de su incapacidad para pronunciar bien "Der Führer", a pesar de que se lo repiten mil y una veces y lo ve escrito, y sigue diciéndolo como "El Furias"? En fin... todo mal.

Y, ahora, llega mi mayor indignación. Creo que si quieres escribir una novela que relate los horrores del Holocausto y de todo lo que sucedió durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, lo mínimo que puedes hacer es respetar la Historia y no tomarte licencias absurdas que, incluso, pueden llegar a ser tremendamente ofensivas. Creo que las novelas históricas deben apuntar a que el público contemporáneo comprenda todo lo que sucedió, más aún si estás escribiendo algo que va enfocado a que lo lean jóvenes y niños. Siento que si un chico que no tenga idea del Holocausto lee este libro, va a terminarlo absolutamente igual: sin saber nada de lo que sucedió durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Para mí, El Niño con el Pijama de Rayas está lleno de inconsistencias históricas. Primero, es físicamente imposible que Bruno y Shmuel se conocieran encontrándose en la valla que demarcaba los límites de Auschwitz. ¿Por qué? Todo el perímetro del campo de concentración estaba lleno de torres de vigilancia, a distancias bastante cortas, con soldados patrullando constantemente y entrenados para disparar primero y preguntar después. Segundo, aún si los dos niños hubieran logrado burlar la seguridad (que no), es imposible que se pasaran comida, ropa o incluso que se tocaran a través de las vallas. ¿Por qué? ¡Estaban electrificadas! Así que incluso la incursión que acaba en tragedia es imposible, nadie habría podido pasar por un pedazo de valla "suelta", habría muerto antes de cruzar al otro lado. Tercero, incluso pensando que todo eso hubiera pasado, Shmuel nunca habría podido robarse un nuevo uniforme/pijama para Bruno. Todos los suministros estaban tremendamente bien vigilados. Cuarto, en el libro se dice que Shmuel lleva, aproximadamente, un año y medio en Auschwitz y que tiene nueve años. ¿Saben qué hacían los nazis con la mayoría de los niños menores de 13 años que llegaban? ¡Los mataban! No sobrevivían mucho tiempo. Si no podían serles útiles y hacer trabajos pesados, se deshacían de ellos. Es tremendamente improbable que un niño de nueve años sobreviviera tanto tiempo en un campo de concentración.

Y me dirán que es un libro de ficción. Y sí, pero es un libro basado en hechos reales, en una tragedia muy real. Y no creo que "romantizar" y deformar de esa manera la Historia sea apropiado. Lo siento, pero no.

Y, vale, si El Niño con el Pijama de Rayas te dejara con el corazón en la mano, llorando y reflexionando sobre la crueldad del ser humano, incluso lo pasaría... pero creo que es el libro más soso y desprovisto de sentimientos que he leído en mucho tiempo. Me están contando la historia de cómo un niño alemán se hizo amigo de uno judío, encontró la manera de entrar al campo para jugar con él y terminó encerrado en una cámara de gas, pero realmente me podrían estar contando un día normal en un parque. No sé si es el estilo del autor, la traducción o qué, pero la narración es absolutamente plana, los personajes no reaccionan, no trascienden de las páginas. Y cuando llega la gran tragedia y el descubrimiento final no hay ninguna explosión de nostalgia, pérdida ni sentimiento alguno.

Lo siento, pero al menos la película, con las mismas inconsistencias históricas, pudo transmitir más sentimientos que este libro.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews939 followers
January 29, 2019
The Evolution of Reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas



I read this book back in circa 800 AD before online reviews were a thang. I figured since I'm trying to read every Boyne book I should reread this one. Thanks a lot, Self.
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 23 books25.9k followers
October 6, 2021

كيف تتحدّث عن النازية والهولوكوست ومعسكرات الاعتقالِ دون أن تذكرها لفظًا؟
ربما كانت منطلقات جون بوين منذ البداية، قائمة على حماية المتلقي - الذي افترض أنه طفل - مما هو صادمٌ ومتوحش، لكنَّ الحقيقة أن الأسلوب الذي انتهجه ينمُّ عن عقلية مبدعة، وأن الرواية التي انتواها للقراء الصغار لم تعد حكرًا عليهم.
لطالما آمنتُ بأن الكتابة عن القضايا الكبيرة، عن المانشيتات المكتوبة بالبنط العرض على جبين التاريخ، ينبغي أن يتمَّ تفتيتها إلى تفاصيل داخل العمل الأدبي، تقريبًا إلى درجة التلاشي، وهذا ما وجدتهُ هنا.
جون بوين كان بارعًا في تمثيل سيكولوجية الطفل؛ النزق والفضول ومحاولاته العابثة لفهم عالم الكبار، عالمٌ لم يصنعه لكن يتحتم عليه أن يكون أحد ضحاياه.
العمل جذاب إلى درجة أنّك تنهيهِ في ليلة أو ليلتين، مضغوط على نحوٍ جيد، ويعتبر نموذجًا ناجحًا لمن يرغب في كتابة عمل درامي بلا دراما مبتذلة، في الكتابة عن العنف دون إراقة قطرة دم واحدة، في الكتابة عن التاريخ دون التورّط في التأريخ.
شكرًا رنيم العامري على الترجمة الجميلة.
Profile Image for Julia Miller.
4 reviews102 followers
October 24, 2017
I am bawling my eyes out. John Boyne, thank you for writing this. ❤️ I‘ve read many books about the Holocaust (I‘m German so I have been confronted with this topic from very early on) and this is by far my favorite one. I love the bond Schmuel and Bruno share and Bruno‘s innocence. While reading some particular scene I‘ve felt terribly guilty of what my country once has done. I wish I could undo all the horrible things that happened to innocent people ( including all people who were affected by the Holocaust, not only the Jews).
Profile Image for NILTON TEIXEIRA.
890 reviews304 followers
April 13, 2020
What a remarkable story!
This is a great work of fiction and a heartbreaking one.
And, as any fiction book, it does not require accuracy. Yes, the book is not flawless, but the author’s ability to tell a story is.
The story is based on the perspective of a 9 years old German boy who has no idea what is happening around him and in the world.
Why some readers have/had a hard time understanding (and even feel/felt offended by) that this is a fiction and that the author never claimed that these were true facts, is beyond my comprehension.

There was just one thing that I did not like (the fact that the fence was not electrified or constantly patrolled did not bother me): If a 9 years old boy is able to talk the way he did, with all his sweet innocence and naïveté, why couldn’t he understand the word “Auschwitz” but kept repeating “Out-With” every time, if his main language is German?

Anyways, the writing is great.
This is a terrific work and I thought that the movie adaptation was well done.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,941 reviews605 followers
August 10, 2023
I have read many good comments on this book; many say that this book was a favorite. My opinion will be different. Indeed the story is beautiful and moving; it touches on a tricky subject, and everything that deals with the holocaust and Nazism fascinates me, but it was not a favorite.
I did not appreciate the characters apart from Schmuel, who touched me greatly concerning what he saw. Bruno's essence is unbearable, a naive child who thinks only of playing and complains because he has no friends. I understand that Bruno does not understand what is going on, primarily if no one has explained it to him, but at nine years old, I think a child is old enough to understand those strange things that happen when he sees people dressed the same skinny and white. The writing is fluid and straightforward. I didn't like the author repeating the same sentences several times as if we hadn't understood. On the other hand, I appreciated that he uses the terms "furrier" for fuhrer and "Nodding" for Auschwitz, which would allow a child who reads the book to understand and not get lost in terms that are difficult to comprehend. The end is harsh, even if it is very predictable.
In conclusion, I would say that it is a book to read for young and old, but it is not a book that caught my attention.
Profile Image for jv poore.
616 reviews212 followers
September 26, 2018
I added this to my To-Read list when a couple of students requested it, then Boy began to read it. Whenever he put it down, I picked it up because Buno is the perfect narrator to pull any reader right in. It's impossible not to adore him in his blissful ignorance.

Part of me wished he could live in his bubble forever, while another part wanted to explain exactly what was going down. No part of me properly anticipated how the story would end.
Profile Image for Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine).
189 reviews229 followers
February 15, 2018
You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.

Since I am the last of the 4.357 gagillion readers out there to read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I won’t rehash what can be read in the blurb and I’m going to limit my review to the few points I found to be most important.

This is a YA novel and the easy, simple way in which it is written really punctuates one of the main themes; the innocence and naiveté of children.

At times I felt Bruno was a bit of a spoiled turd. I then felt guilty for feeling that way. I’m not sure I need to feel guilty though. After all, don’t most nine year olds behave like turds every now and then? It didn’t make me like him any less.

I appreciated the way the relationship between his parents was portrayed. Most if it went over Bruno’s head which, once again, illustrated his naiveté and the often false sense of security children feel within their family.

There is so much to be said out Bruno’s looking out his window and imagining a life for the people he saw which was so far off from their experience. This would be a great discussion point for a book club.
Bruno’s friendship with Shmuel created an anxiety that made turning the pages both compelling and daunting.

That ending! Wow, I really didn’t see that coming until the very last minute. I can’t really discuss without spoilers but I can think of several themes folded in. And those last sentences? Scary and timely! It could definitely inspire a very lively book club discussion/debate.

Although I found the book to be very sad and very touching, it didn’t make me cry the way I had anticipated. Perhaps because I was expecting it to be sad. I had been warned on multiple occasions to read with a box of tissue at my side. I’m certainly glad I read this book and continue to be a huge fan of Boyne’s work.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,380 followers
September 16, 2019
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

“What exactly was the difference? He wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?”

★ I picked this because I heard a lot of good things about the author’s writing and I like the book’s name but I did not know what it is about. I did not even read the synopsis!

★ The writing was light hearted and I think having the book revolving about Bruno was a great idea! The innocence of the young did reach me and the darkness of the adult world was also delivered! This kind of reminds me of Fredrik Backman’s writing, easy to get into, funny but yet it delivers an emotional punch.

★ The characters were great and although the MC is a 9 year old boy, the story is not for young kids and nor will they understand it. This has a wide set of characters that felt so real to me from Bruno’s family, his dad and the fury to the boy in the striped Pajamas.

★ The plot was great and if you check my GR shelves, I added this to my Tear-Worthy books. I am not a big fan of stories on war, and historical fictions are not for me in general. But this was one of the times that a book could teach me about history more than 12 years in school did.

★ The pacing was crazy fast, this can be literally read in one sitting. The meeting of the boys happened at almost exactly 50% and things got more interesting after that. If I am going to criticize one thing is that this felt too short and I wanted more to live with these characters. I expected a different ending and when I was approaching it, I thought it was going to be rushed but it was not. It just destroyed me in the best possible way and then I went and watched the ending of the movie on Youtube which had brilliant actors and it helped in destroying what remained of me.

“Sitting around miserable all day won’t make you any happier.”

★ Summary and Prescriptions: I prescribe this for everyone, please go and read this. I enjoyed it from page 1 to the last page and I even wanted more. I will be checking the author’s other books for sure.

you can get the book from here: Book Depository
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