The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

I have read many other books on the Holocaust — both fiction and non-fiction — but I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. What makes this story so different? The main thing that made this story stand out was the fact that it is told from the perspective of a young boy named Bruno, whose father is a Nazi officer. Readers know the sad reality of what happened to Jews during the Holocaust, so life “on the other side of the fence” is not the mystery Bruno thinks it to be. Readers know, for example, that Bruno’s being forced to move to a smaller home and having to leave his friends behind are nothing compared to the sacrifices that are being forced upon the occupants of the concentration camps. When Bruno meets Shmuel (a young Jewish boy) during one of his adventures, he is excited to finally have a friend to play with — and surprised to learn that he and this other boy share the same exact birth date. The boys decide to keep on meeting in secret and end up deciding that they are “best friends for life.” Having this friendship, nevertheless, doesn’t help Bruno to understand why Shmuel is so small, thin and sickly. Bruno does not even understand the gravity of the situation when Shmuel’s grandfather disappears and cannot be found in the camp. Will Bruno ever get his wish to spend a day playing and exploring on Shmuel’s side of the fence? And will he ever come to understand the suffering of the people on the other side of the fence at “Out-With” (aka Auschwitz)?

Happy Reading!

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