Thursday, September 6, 2012

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 from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see 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 to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

So begins this interesting story by John Boyne. Now the first thing I had to remember when I started was that this was, in fact, a story. These two boys were not real. The situations they were in could have been (obviously the camp was for many, many people) but the boys themselves were not real. They were believable  mostly, and were enjoyable to read about. 

The hardest thing for me while reading this was just how naive and clueless Bruno truly was. I realize that there were many people living in Germany and other Germans at this time period that were completely clueless as to what was going on. They were told many different things about the internment camps and believed that those camps were honestly keeping them safe. Bruno did not believe that the camp was keeping him safe, but he didn't believe anything really. He believed that the people on the other side of the fence were good people, once he got to know his friends Schmuel. 

The clueless-ness got to be a little hard for me to read. As a reader we all have heard stories about what has happened in those camps. We can't say we all know what goes on, because we were not there. Only the survivors know what went on in those camps and there aren't many of those left today. Bruno had absolutely no clue what was going on. He had all of the clues and hints about what could be happening right in front of him, but he either chose to ignore it or he is just super oblivious to his surroundings. Everyone around him knew what was going on. His sister caught on pretty quickly, but he did not. Sometimes I just really wanted someone to explain to Bruno what was happening, because when he and Schmuel talked he sounded completely rude. But every single time I got a little annoyed with it I remember that there were so many people who were just as clueless as Bruno, even with all the information in front of them.

Was this book good? Yes. I think it was pretty good. It was really interesting and not a terribly difficult read. I found that I read over half the book in one night. It is short, so it's a nice low-commitment read. It wasn't something that I obsessed over reading, but it was enjoyable. I do recommend that people read this book.

Wish me luck as I select what to read next. I should really take a picture of my stack of books, though you wouldn't get to full effect of the 5-8 books on my nook. 

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