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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable - David Boyne

I listened to this on audio and I totally loved this book! It is a Holocaust novel, so it's not for everyone, and it would be a good idea to have someone to talk with about this novel after reading.

Bruno, the nine year old narrator of this story, is the son of a Nazi officer who moves his family from Berlin to "Out-With" where he is to be the new commandant at the concentration camp. Bruno knows nothing of what's really happening in the camp, which he can see from his bedroom window. All he knows is that many people live there behind the fence, and they all wear striped pajamas and hats and have shaved heads. As Bruno has no friends at Out-with, only a sister who he calls quite frequently, "a hopeless case," he's terribly lonely. He imagines that the people living behind the fence are all happy families who get to run and play and he's sort of jealous of them.

Then one day he meets a boy wearing striped pajamas who lives behind the fence. His name is Schmuel. Bruno and the boy become friends, with Bruno going to see Schmuel nearly every day, even though his father has expressly forbidden going anywhere near the fence. He really wants to go visit Schmuel, and Schmuel wants him to visit, but they both know it's not a good idea. One day, however, after Bruno has told Schmuel his family is moving back to Berlin, they hatch a plan for Bruno to sneak in under the fence which will lift up juuust enough.

What follows is a tense and terrifying conclusion which readers with some knowledge of the Holocaust are sure to understand although it is never spelled out.

This is an incredible piece of writing for mature readers with some understanding of the Holocaust.

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