“The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas” by John Boyne

This is one book that tugs at your heart-strings and leaves you feeling haunted for some time. It explains the pain and trauma of the Holocaust in a simple, in-direct yet effective manner. It has been categorized under “Novel for Younger Readers” on the author’s website.  The book has been written from a child’s point of view and hence is easy for young readers  (I would say 10 years+ ) to read. Although it is intriguing and well written for adults to read too.

The Boy in Striped PyjamasThe book is about a 9-year-old boy Bruno who lives with his family in Berlin. His father is an important officer in the German army under Hitler’s command(Fury as Bruno calls him in the book). He is transferred to Out-with (as Bruno refers to the place in the book, but which refers to the Auschwitz concentration camp). The book tells us how life changes for Bruno, his sister and his mother after the move, what they see and what they are told about the camp. He leaves behind his friends in Berlin and feels very lonely in Out-with till he meets a friend from the other side of the barbed wire – Shmuel who wears striped pyjamas like all the other people on that side of the fence. Shmuel’s world is very different from Bruno’s. And in child-like curiosity Bruno wants to find out more about his new friend’s world. What he learns is beyond his innocent mind’s comprehension. And soon he becomes a part of that world unknowingly.

The book is a page turner and you won’t feel like putting it down. The characters are beautifully portrayed – the hesitant house help, the arrogant army officer, the submissive servants, the naive friend and Bruno – innocent, curious and unlucky. The plot and style of writing are captivating. A heart-wrenching narrative of one of the worst tragedies of mankind! The book has also been made into a motion picture – both the book and movie have won a lot of critical acclaim.

The author John Boyne is an Irish novelist and the story is set in Berlin so I will file this review under Europe in my 2011 Global Reading Challenge.  You can order the book via Flipkart.

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