Sunday Review–The Boy in Stripped Pajamas by John Boyne

Hello all!!! I am back with a lazy review–it’s Sunday and I am doing a review on historical fiction on The Boy in Stripped Pajamas by John Boyne


Lines may divide us, but hope will unite us . . .

Nine-year-old Bruno knows nothing of the Final Solution and the Holocaust. He is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country. All he knows is that he has been moved from a comfortable home in Berlin to a house in a desolate area where there is nothing to do and no one to play with. Until he meets Shmuel, a boy who lives a strange parallel existence on the other side of the adjoining wire fence and who, like the other people there, wears a uniform of striped pyjamas.

Bruno’s friendship with Shmuel will take him from innocence to revelation. And in exploring what he is unwittingly a part of, he will inevitably become subsumed by the terrible process.

Paperback: 215 pages

Publisher: David Fickling Books; Reprint edition (October 23, 2007)

Language: English

Genre–Holocaust, Family, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Prejudice and Racism


John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971 and is the author of seven novels for adults and three for children. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas won two Irish Book Awards, was shortlisted for the British Book Award, reached no.1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and was made into an award-winning Miramax feature film. His novels are published in over 45 languages. He lives in Dublin.

OK, so let me tell you something, I have always been fascinated with World War II stories including Holocaust. I have learned about Holocaust in history and also about Nazis and Hitler and I have always intrigued about Holocaust. It also makes me sad that there was a period of time when being a Jew, or gay or communist means a death sentence to each of them. I have watched the movies The Pianist, The Schindler’s List as well as The Boy in Striped Pajamas movie and the way Nazis treated the Jews is utterly horrifying. Reading Anne Frank’s Diary also showed what life is really for a Jew during the Holocaust time.

This book is mainly based on a nine-year old Bruno’s perspective during World War II. His father is a Nazi Commandant who was being sent to Auschwitz to look after the camp. Little Bruno does not understand why they had to leave the comfort of their house in Berlin and move to “Out With” which is the way Bruno pronounces and which is of course Auschwitz. Bruno eventually befriends a prisoner named Schmuel who shares the same birthday as Bruno and who instantly become best friends.

The author has used the eyes of a nine year old to tell about the horrors of Holocaust also showing the naivety of Bruno. Bruno admires his father and thinks of him as a hero. He does not understand why Schmuel looks sad. He does not understand why people on the other side of the fence are wearing striped pajamas. He doens’t know who “the Fury” is (we all know it’s The Fuhrer who is Hitler) But through these curiosity of a naive nine year old, horrors of Holocaust can be seen as well–the way the younger Nazi solder, Lieutenant Kotler treats Pavel and Schmuel (who is clearly afraid of Kotler) and the way the children are taught to hate the Jews. That’s Nazism and it was actually horrifying. Boyne has cleverly and beautifully written a sensitive topic of Holocaust. The ending of the book was too sick, too sad, knowing what is actually happening to them inside the room they were locked in and for a moment, my heart stopped for a second, secretly crying. It was too emotional and captivating

However there are some certain things that I felt that the story is unbelievable.

  • Bruno always steals food to give to Schmuel and is away for longer periods of time–wouldn’t his mother notice?
  • As far as I know, Jews or prisoners at Auschwitz were not allowed to loiter around the camp, including to be near the fences.

Over all my rating for the book will be


If you are interested in historical fiction and want to read books based on Holocaust, specially written for children, then this book is for you.


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

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

“He looked down and did something quite out of character for him: he took hold of Shmuel’s tiny hand in his and squeezed it tightly.
“You’re my best friend, Shmuel,” he said. “My best friend for life.”


Hope you like my review!

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