It talks about a nine year old German boy called Bruno who had to move from Berlin to a place called “Out – With” (Known to adults as Auschwitz) . Bruno looks out through his new bedroom window where he sees something unusual, little huts and thousands of people all wearing striped pyjamas.
He is very curious about what seems to him as a village and wonders, why do these people live behind this fence? They are soooo thin and so weak and they never leave their side of the fence.
What amazes me about this book is how the author was so successful in narrating the story from the perspective of an innocent nine year old boy.
Bruno describes himself as an explorer so one day he explores around the perimeter of the fence and meets Schmuel, the boy in the striped pyjamas, and they become the best of friends.
I can’t stress enough how this book moved me. I really enjoyed reading it and sometimes my heart was breaking for both Bruno and Schmuel.
Here’s an expert from a book review by the Guardian:
Given that he lives in a house of partial views and suppressed conversations, the agent of Bruno’s enlightenment comes, naturally enough, from beyond its four walls. Exploring the perimeter of the camp he encounters a boy from the striped-pyjama side called Schmuel. Over the next few months the two children swap life stories through the mesh fence. Schmuel explains how he and his family have been transported here from a ghetto in Poland. Bruno counters with stories of the niceness of his life in Berlin and the stray, worried thought that next time he should probably bring his new friend some food. (He tries, but since being an Explorer is such hungry work, he has the unfortunate habit of polishing off the bread and chocolate before arriving at their rendezvous.)
One of the great triumphs of this book is the way that John Boyne manages the shift in register from the intensely concrete inner world of his child narrator – a place where an elder sister’s pigtails or the corner of a bedroom window are branded on your inner eye – to something that borders on fable. It turns out, for instance, that both Bruno and Schmuel were born on the same day, at a stroke turning them into narrative doubles and psychic twins. And then there is the oddness of Auschwitz security being so lax that a child prisoner could make a weekly date with the commandant’s son without anyone noticing…. source spoiler warning
This book is going on my most favorites list.
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