The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.


This was a very surprising and powerful novel. It is a unique novel because it is about the Holocaust and told from the perspective of a German boy, whose father is a top ranking Nazi official. The character of Bruno as been criticized for being "too innocent," but I disagree. First, he's a young boy who loves his father. Of course, he is innocent and naive. He lived a sheltered life, and because of this when he encounters unpleasant things or things he doesn't understand, it is natural that he dismissed them.

However, it is also this same innocence that allows him to recognize that there is something not quite right about what his father does, as well as befriend a Jewish boy trapped in a concentration camp. His innocence allows him to see beyond the differences to the similarities they both share and want to help his friend.

The ending was the most surprising and powerful part of the story. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't give anymore details. I do feel that this is a great book to give to young readers to start the conversation about the Holocaust. The story generates many questions and Bruno is relatable enough to appeal to young readers. I was blown away by this novel and it left a lasting impression on me. It is an impressive and touching piece of literature.

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