Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

I'd been wanting to read this for a while as there was so much hype about the book and then the film. I have not seen the film. Mum was throwing out some books and this was among them so I thought I'd rescue it and read it.

So what did I think? Um, where to start and how to be nice about it. I didn't think a lot of it. I can't see what all the fuss was about.

So we're in Nazi Germany, and 9 year old Bruno is the son of a high-ranking Nazi who is sent to run Auschwitz. He befriends a Jewish boy who's on the other side of the fence around the camp, and sneaks off daily to talk with him through the fence. Then one day he crawls under the fence, dresses himself in a set of striped pyjamas his friend acquired for him, and finds himself rounded up and put in the gas chambers. Sorry, gave away the ending there.

This should be a powerful, tear-jerking story. Of course it's meant for children, but should still have the power to hit adults hard as well. But it's just so unbelievable. We're supposed to accept that Bruno doesn't know what a Jew is, and has no idea about the prison camps. He comes across as not naive - more like a simpleton. Yet he's able to sneak away from the house every day and no one wonders where he goes, and he and his friend are never spotted by guards when they're talking through the fence.

I remember as a young teen reading When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - and that gave me a far better idea of what the Nazis did to the Jews than this book would give the current generation of kids. I thought it was twee, irritating, not credible, repetitive and poorly written. Sorry and all that.

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