The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Author: John Boyne
Katrina Colla owns fashion shopping website Frock You. This week we asked her about her favourite book of all time, and while she couldn’t quite decide on her absolute favourite, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is high on her list of must reads.
“I have many, many favourite books, so I thought I’d share the last book I’ve read which really struck a chord – or perhaps, ‘left me sitting in stunned silence’ is more accurate. You see, the ending to John Boyne’s The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas isn’t one that you’ll forget in a hurry. I can’t tell you anything more than that…aside from, don’t rent the DVD yet, read the book first (always a good rule to follow in life)!”
“It’s a short novel, with large print, so even if you’re not a bookworm, this is ridiculously easy to read. Told from the point of view of 9 year old Bruno, son of a Nazi Commandant, the language is suitably simple and childlike, giving Bruno’s innocent observations a horrific clarity. Hitler is called the Fury, and the concentration camp under his father’s command, Out-With. Forced to move from Berlin to a three-storey house in the middle of nowhere after a visit from the Fury, Bruno notices that out of his bedroom window are people behind a fence, all seemingly dressed in their pyjamas. Even though the fence is strictly out of bounds, Bruno can’t stop thinking about it, and none of the grown-ups will give him a sensible answer to his questions.”
“It was as if it were another city entirely, the people all living and working together side by side with the house where he lived. And were they really so different? All the people in the camp wore the same clothes…and all the people who wandered through his house wore uniforms…What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pyjamas and which people wore the uniforms?
Bruno, overwhelmed by curiosity, decided to explore the fence and it’s there that he meets Shmuel. Though separated by the fence, they soon become best friends. Bruno gets increasingly frustrated and bored living in his house with rules and manners and no-one to play with, and wishes he could live on Shmuel’s side where he could play with the other children and wear pyjamas all day. It’s these kinds of childlike assumptions that make the reader’s historical understanding of what’s really going on behind that fence, even more poignant.
It’s one of those books you can read in one sitting, even though you’re turning each page with a growing sense of dread and a growing sense of despair. Towards the end, you’ll cotton on to where it’s ultimately headed but you’ll find yourself thinking, hoping, that something so unimaginably awful couldn’t possibly happen.
History, however, has taught us otherwise.”
Get it from Amazon: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas