Thursday, 28 February 2019

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne Book Review

I first watched The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas years ago, and it was a film that really affected me. I still remember so clearly absolutely sobbing, I had no idea that the ending would be that, and it stayed with me for a long time afterwards. It was on the TV recently and I caught the last 45 minutes or so of it and it spurred me on to buy the book as I really wanted to see how different that would be.
A flatlay photo - the boy in the striped pyjamas book flat, flowers next to it, ribbon draped across
'Nine year old Bruno knows nothing of the Final Solution and the Holocaust. He is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country. All he knows is that he has been moved from a comfortable home in Berlin to a house in a desolate area where there is nothing to do and no one to play with. Until he meets Shmuel, a boy who lives a strange parallel existence on the other side of the adorning wire fence and who, like the other people there, wears a uniform of striped pyjamas. Bruno's friendship with Shmuel will take him from innocence to revelation. And in exploring what he is unwittingly a part of, he will inevitably become subsumed by the terrible process.'

My review

Once I started this, it did feel familiar and not just because of the film, so I do have a sneaky suspicion that I have read this before, maybe when I was in school but either way it was a book I wanted in my collection, especially after reading The Tattooist Of Auschwitz at the start of the year. It didn't take me long to get started on this and right from the very start it was an easy read. I've been doing mini book reviews on my Insta stories (if you want to see those, you can follow me here) and I mentioned in that this is quite a simple story so I found it was all really easy to follow. It's told by nine year old Bruno and I think John Boyne has got this so right. It's like he was right in his mind as it never felt too young or childish and you couldn't tell it was written by someone older, you could really believe the naivety and confusion that Bruno was feeling.

It probably helps I'd seen the film first but I found it really easy to picture everything as the story unfolded. We don't get loads and loads of detail, but I suppose because of where they were living and the actual main plot that was going on between Bruno and Shmuel, it wasn't needed but I still found I could set the scene all the time, almost like I was seeing it through Bruno's eyes too.

Obviously anything to do with Auschwitz is just devastating so I knew that this wasn't going to be a comfortable read but I didn't feel it was too heavy, meaning I do think it's probably suitable for people of all different ages (within reason obviously). Going back to the narrative being from Bruno's point of view, this meant for a long time he never knew what was happening and could only go on his fathers words that what he was doing was okay so it wasn't until nearer the end, you really feel the more powerful and emotional side of it if that makes sense. It's the interaction between Bruno and Shmuel that really gets to me. They are worlds apart and it's just so sad to think of anyone who was in the same situation as Shmuel, being punished for absolutely nothing. I just always think 'how did this ever happen', it breaks my heart.

From reading reviews of this on Amazon and Goodreads, it seems to have gathered quite a lot of criticism since it was released but I personally really enjoyed it. I'm not sure enjoyed is the right word but it's another book that's quite hard to review as it's such a sensitive subject. I do think it's translated to screen really well and therefore I do prefer the film over the book and I do find the ending is much more impactful on screen but I'm still really glad I read this. It's quite a short story and a quick one to get through so if you want a book to add to your reading list, I'd definitely recommend this.

Have you read The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas? Did you prefer the film or the book?

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14 comments

Lena Mistry said...

Ooooh
I have not yet read it but I need to!

I've also read Tattooist of Auschwitz and recently The Red Ribbon (also based in the Holocaust)

thanks for this honest review - I did not know there was a film even!

-Lena
www.lenasnotebook.co.uk

Tiffany Timms said...

The film is well worth watching! So sad but I think they did a brilliant job. I'm going to add The Red Ribbon to my list! Xx

AlishaValerie said...

I adored this book when I read it so I loved hearing that you enjoyed it too. 💜

With love, Alisha Valerie x | www.alishavalerie.com

Chloe Chats said...

I haven't seen the film or read the book, but I do have the book and I have had the film saved in my favourites on Netflix for a good while! I have heard how good but how emotional it is, and I just haven't felt like I have had the right moment to watch it or read it yet haha. Definitely will soon!!

Chloe xx
www.chloechats.com

Debbie said...

My youngest daughter had to read this book at school. She loved it but also she cried over it. I wonder if it's like I am David?

jennyinneverland said...

I enjoyed the film! I wasn't crazy about it but it was good. Although I'm not sure I'd read the book!

Jenny
http://www.jennyinneverland.com

Heather Nixon said...

I know loads of people love the film and book but I can't watch anything related to the world wars x

www.ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk

Tiffany Timms said...

So glad you enjoyed it too xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Haha yeah be prepared! I was a mess the first time xx

Tiffany Timms said...

It's very similar I think! X

Tiffany Timms said...

I think they did really well turning it into a film and not missing anything, just so sad xx

Tiffany Timms said...

It's tough, this was very emotional x

Samantha | The Beauty Spyglass said...

I’ve not heard of this book or film but I know it’s grest to read the book and watch the film for a slightly different take! Love your book recommendations and this one sounds like a must read albeit an emotional one. x

Samantha | https://theneautyspyglass.com

Sophie said...

I'm always nervous when it comes to reading things that I've seen before just in case the stories don't match up in the same way. I found it interesting that you said you thought that seeing the movie helped on this occasion. I'm glad it wasn't too heavy too. I like things that are on the deeper side but I'm not a fan when they're too raw. Great review x

Sophie
www.glowsteady.co.uk

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