Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review of The Boy In The Striped Pyamas

The boy in the striped pyamas is a strange little story. It tells the tale of a young nine-year old boy, named Bruno who lives in Germany during WWII. He's living a happy life with his mom, dad and his sister in a large estate in Berlin. A Berlin already undergoing threaths which he doesn't understand quite well.

The story begins when he comes home and the housekeeper is putting all his stuff in wooden crates, because they're moving to another house. The fuhrer himself has been by for dinner and Bruno's father has been transferred somewhere else to do something especially important.
This is how Bruno wounds up in a house not nearly as exciting as the one he left, in an area not nearly as vivid and living as Berlin and with a strange view from his bedroom window.
As the reader you instantly know he's living on the edge of the concentration camp Ausschwitz. His father is responsible for the life and especially the demise of the jews locked up in that camp.

Bruno, with being so young, doesn't comprehend where he lives, and since no one is telling him, decides to find out himself. He goes on an 'expedition' which results in him meeting a little boy named Shmuell. Shmuell is one of the jews in Ausschwitz, but he is also a nine-year old boy the same as Bruno. They even share their birthdays.
Shmuell tells Bruno what happens on the other side of the fence, but in his childlike manner the real point never gets across. Bruno also a little naive never truly understands the danger he's in, the reason why he's on the 'good' side of the fence and what could happen is someone found out what he was doing all those afternoons spend with Shmuell.

I loved this story for it's simplicity. It's a children's tale of how life during WWII was like for both German children as Jewish children. It is a story I could see myself telling my daughter when she's older. A perfect way to explain what humans sometimes do to each other in a childproof manner.
Bruno is a endearing little boy and the same goes for Shmuell. How they both meander the ugly truth of the fence keeping them apart. A black spot in our recent history, and when a child's mind can't be wrapped around it, you know just how inkblack it really was.
When I was reaching the final pages, I was wondering how you could end a story like this. Maybe Shmuell would one day not be there, maybe the war would be over, maybe Bruno moved back to Berlin? I'm not keen on telling too many spoilers, the only thing I'll tell is that the ending was as perfect as the story itself, and it made me think awhile. Think about the victims of those days.

Personal rating: 4 stars
Page count: 218 pages
First published in 2006.