This book was from a budget buy and my sister and I are still undecided as to who bought it. In any case, I was immediately drawn by the stripy dust jacket and catchy title.
“The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is a real page turner about a 9 year old German boy, Bruno, whose mother announces that they are moving out of the city into the country. Surprised, Bruno asks a lot of questions about the move but neither his father nor his mother gives him satisfactory answers.
He only knows that they are moving to a new house in a new city because his father, a Commandant in the German army, has been promoted.
Other than his father, nobody else in his family i.e. his mother or his elder sister seems excited about the move that Bruno suspects everything isn’t as perfect as his mother tries to imply.
The only person who tries to cheer him up is Maria, his servant, who encourages him to try to make the best out of it.
As he suspects, the new house is nothing like the old one. What’s more, he doesn’t have any neighbours, which means he has nobody to play!
Although Bruno has childish squabbles with his friends back in the city, he begins to think that a few friends are better than no friends at all…
What’s worse, the only other “child” around i.e. his sister has now set her attention on the young and handsome Lieutenant Kotler, one of his father’s favourite officers.
A LONELY BOY
Looking out the window, Bruno notices that the new house overlooks a fence and there seemed to be a lot of people and CHILDREN on the other side!
He brings it up to his mother once or twice but is immediately warned not to bother about them. He’s also forbidden to play anywhere near the fence.
Bruno’s mother hires a private tutor to attend to the children’s lessons and hopefully, keep him busy.
Nevertheless, Bruno meets two Jews – a manservant, who’s actually a doctor and Schmuel, a little boy he befriended when he disobeyed his parents and scouted the area on his own…
Bruno’s friendship with Schmuel is complex – he secretly brings him food and even offers him some when the latter has some tasks in the house. However, when Lt. Kotler demands to know if Bruno had given him the food, his fear makes him betray his friend by denying it.
Guilty about this betrayal, Bruno promises the distressed Schmuel that he would help him find his father, who had suddenly disappeared one morning…
John Boyne’s first book written for children, I found out that:
“Unlike the months of planning Boyne had for his other books, he said that he wrote the entire first draft of Boy in two and a half days, barely sleeping until he got to the end.”
Thank God the light bulb lit up for John Boyne and he burned that midnight oil to pen down “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas“! A truly amazing read…
Other books on the Holocaust: