I felt certain I wouldn’t enjoy this book as it is about the Holocaust and (as I’ve mentioned in previous book reviews) I don’t generally choose such potentially upsetting subjects for my reading pleasure. But the book was strongly recommended to me, and, in turn, I am strongly recommending it to everyone else! It is one of the most incredible and powerful books I have ever read and one that I think will stay with me for a long time.

It is the story of nine year old Bruno, whose father is an important man in Hitler’s government and is sent to manage Auschwitz concentration camp resulting in the family having to leave their comfortable life and home in Berlin and move to live near Auschwitz. Bruno is not aware of what is happening in the world at this time, or of his country’s part in these momentous events, or of the terrible cruelties being inflicted upon the Jewish people, and he becomes friends with one of the camp’s inmates, a boy called Shmuel.

The book is beautifully and gently written as the reader sees things from Bruno’s innocent and childish perspective. We are therefore cushioned from the stark horrors of what is going on, as Bruno himself is not aware of them, but there is enough information hinted at for us to understand where Bruno is and what is happening. For example Auschwitz is only ever referred to in the book as ‘Out-With’ as this is Bruno’s pronunciation of the word, and he is mainly just puzzled by the people in the camp and their strange uniform (the striped pyjamas) that he can see from his bedroom window and he thinks enviously of all the potential playmates in the camp.

I liked the gentle style of writing from a child’s perspective and this encouraged me to continue reading the book as I was originally daunted that I would be faced with explicit details of the atrocities that went on.

The ending to the book is one of the most memorable and shocking and clever endings that I have ever read, and I personally think one more guaranteed to influence the views of the character of Bruno’s father (and the reader) with its childlike innocence and misunderstanding, as opposed to an ending full of stark brutal facts.

I think this is, quite simply, an incredible book.

Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
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