The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

Book Summary

It's the 1940's in Berlin, Germany where 9-year-old Bruno has lived his entire life. However, when his father is promoted he is forced to leave his home along with his mother and his older sister, Gretel. The family moves to a very secluded house at a place called Auschwitz. As soon as they arrive Bruno comes to the conclusion that he will never have a friend again, but that is not entirely true. One day Bruno peers out of his new-bedroom window only to find a very large fence with hundreds of young boys and men all wearing identical striped pajamas. When he asked his father about the fence he would simply brush him off and only talk about how "their kind" needed to be punished. Paying no mind to his father, adventurous Bruno knew that the fence needed to be explored at once.


As he strolled along the length of the fence he came to notice a young boy. The boy introduced himself as Shmuel, and as the two began talking they even figured out that they shared the same birthday. Shmuel wore the same uniform striped pajamas that matched everyone else's inside the fence and had the same shaved hairstyle. Everyday after their meeting Bruno would walk down to the same spot where Shmuel would always be sitting and waiting for him. It was not long until the pair became best friends.


After about a year at Auschwitz Bruno hears the news that he will be returning to Germany, so him and Shmuel decide that they need a final adventure. So on Bruno's last day in Germany he goes to the fence as always and finds Shmuel who hands an extra pair of the famous striped pajamas to him. Because this time, for Bruno, the exploring would take place on the opposite side of the fence.


Find out what happens to Bruno in Shmuel's environment in John Boyne's "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas."

Real Life Facts Learned from the Book

1. Auschwitz was a real concentration camp where over one million Jews were killed by the Nazis


2. Hitler was referred to as "the Fuhrer of Germany" as mentioned in the book


3. The phrase "Heil Hitler" was actually used by Hitler's followers as a form of worship

Recommended for...

Everyone! This is a fictional book that can be read and enjoyed by a large range of ages. The older readers will understand a lot of the devastating hidden meanings that a child would easily overlook. Most people I know who have read this book have absolutely loved it, and they've often recommended it to a friend themselves. If you love a book that takes you on a journey and makes you think and wonder, then this is the book for you.

5 out of 5 stars!