Vee is on a forced mental health hiatus until 16th June. See you then!

Review of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

by - July 31, 2014

Format: Paperback
Genres: Childrens, Historical,
Pages: 215
Publisher: Black Swan
Release Date: 2007
Find The Author: Website ¦ Twitter

Abe Books ¦ Book Depository ¦ Goodreads
UK Readers: Check if this book is on RISI

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.

The story is told from the point of view of a child, as if to a child, which makes the story even more eerie and unsettling as Bruno tries to find out about the strange people across the fence, wearing striped pyjamas. He's a stark contrast to Shmuel, who's around the same age but knows of the full horrors of the war and has experienced them too.

Bruno and Scmuel's friendship is a simple and tragic one. Schmuel is the only friend Bruno has now that he's moved away from the city into a house next to the 'Out-With', and he tries to visit him every day, often trying to bring food which quickly gets at least half eaten on the journey to the fence.

One of the cleverest aspects of the book is showing an older audience the things Bruno didn't pick up on - the visits from the Fury, Out-With, why his chef wasn't allowed to be a doctor anymore. It really gives the reader a glimpse into the true goings on in Bruno's household, while showing just how innocent Bruno is. 

The ending is quick, but brutal. I did think that last chapter rushed the story a little, trying to tie everything up and there were historical inaccuracies, but the story was still very powerful. You can see the events leading up to it's final conclusion and I was hoping beyond hope all the way through that someone would intervene or something would happen, but it never did.  

It takes a lot to shock me in a story, particularly in a story about World War Two and the concentration camps, however this book managed just that, and will stick with me forever. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is undoubtedly a modern classic, and will remain a classic for a very long time. 

You May Also Like


  1. I agree Valerie! :D This is such a powerful, raw story and I absolutely loved it; and I'm glad you did too. :)

    "One of the cleverest aspects of the book is showing an older audience the things Bruno didn't pick up on - the visits from the Fury, Out-With, why his chef wasn't allowed to be a doctor anymore." <-- That was one of the things I loved most too! :D The story was so simple being told from his perspective, but as older readers we can really step back and see what Bruno is missing or not picking up on.

    The ending and the friendship were really well-done too! :D

    Thanks for sharing and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

  2. Anonymous3:52 pm BST

    This book was so sad. Bruno's innocence was heartbreaking, especially because you start to piece together what really is happening. I 'liked' that the ending was not happy. Yes, it was super sad but also shows the beauty of friendship and the millions of innocent victims. Very powerful read and good review Vickie!

  3. I've only watched the movie but I'm glad you liked the book. Lovely review!

  4. Yep the ending just comes in really, and you're left in a silent pool of shock. I didn't see the point of the chapter after the ending, except to actually have something to read while the rest of what happened sunk in. The movie deals with the ending a lot better in my opinion.


I love comments! Spam comments will be deleted.