The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

By: John Boyne

Annotated Book Review

In the award winning historical fiction novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by

John Boyne

, 9-year-old Bruno must discover the truth lying behind the fence in order to know what the real story is. When Bruno and his family leave

Berlin

for Auschwitz (Out-With) for father’s new job, Bruno’s life changes from seeing the Nazis’ Ultimate Solution. Along the way Bruno meets a boy just like him except, he’s on the other side of the fence. This novel tells the true story of the

Holocaust

through the eyes of an innocent boy and the obliviousness of

Hitler

and the

Nazis’

.


When Bruno moves from his comfortable five story home in Berlin to his new “foreseeable future” home in

Auschwitz

, he has no idea what to expect. His father is head of Nazi Commandment and is now in charge of the concentration camp located in his backyard. When he gets there, it is unlike anything he has ever seen. With a fence separating him from exploration, or at least what he thinks, he is bored out of his mind. As the dreadful days continued, he could not control how much he wanted to go explore. One day, he sneaks out of his home and walks along the fence for an hour. When he is about to go back for dinner, he sees a boy on the other side of the fence. He’s cross-legged on the ground, and is wearing striped pajamas and a

Star of David

arm patch. Bruno and the boy are strangers and live in two completely different worlds but have a desire for friendship during a difficult and lonely time.


Boyne conveyed the historical setting of the novel by giving details of the concentration camp in the backyard called Auschwitz and by giving details of the Nazi Soldiers and Jews living in the camps. One of Boyne’s greatest strengths as a writer is his ability to create suspense. For example, throughout chapter 19 I felt suspense. When the Nazis’ blew a whistle and made people go on a march, I got a bad feeling. When the whistle blew again, the group of people started to march slowly together in the center. As they marched, they went up steps into a large room. At this point I knew what was happening and felt scared. One aspect of the novel I found most enjoyable was that Shmuel always looked at the positive side. No matter how bad of a situation he was going through, he reminded me to always be thankful for what I do have and not to be jealous of what I don’t. For example, one afternoon Shmuel had a black eye and when Bruno asked him about it he said he didn’t want to talk about it, trying to change the subject to something positive. One aspect of the novel that bothered me as a reader was all the times Bruno complained in front of Shmuel. For example, Bruno was complaining about how his house only has 3 floors now and not 5 floors like his old house. Bruno also complained living in a 3 story home is a small space when Shmuel is living in a hut with a lot of other people. I wish the author had went into more detail at the end of the story because I wanted to know what happened to the father and the family.

The central theme of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is friendship can thrive even in a world full darkness and evil. The theme of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is clearly communicated as Bruno learns despite Shmuel’s and his many differences, they form a friendship and bond that surpasses race. Overall, this novel is a powerful story which takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster with all the ups and downs in the story. I would give this novel 4 out of 5 stars because some parts of the book were historically inaccurate. I would recommend this novel to people who have an interest in the Holocaust who enjoy thrills of historical fiction.

Analysis of Historical Accuracy

Short Informative Piece

Short Narrative Piece

Creative Element

Works Cited Page