Saturday 27 December 2008

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Uncle John urged me to read this short, exquisite story set in Germany during the second World War. Now I would have thought this topic had been done from every imaginable angle and that no new perspective could be found.

I would be wrong.

Bruno is a young boy whose father is in charge of the death camp at Auschwitz, which he calls "Out With". He's upset at having been moved from his wonderful home in Berlin to this outpost where he has no friends. He doesn't fully understand what his father's job is and although his bedroom window overlooks the grounds of the concentration camps he certainly doesn't understand what goes on there. He just wants to go on adventures.

As he walks the fence that separates his world from the other he finds another little boy sitting on the other side of the fence. They begin an unlikely friendship based on just talking. I loved this part because if you've ever watched boys play, they don't talk much. Oh, they make pirate growls and the sounds of cars driving and very realistic explosion noises but they don't talk much about what they think. These 2 little boys had no other choice. They had no toys and couldn't go exploring together.

But most extraordinarily, they don't talk about what is really happening mostly because they are too young and too innocent to believe the horrors.

When the Jewish boys father disappears, Bruno agrees to help find him and plots to sneak under the fence. He is never seen again.

This novel is simple. It is simply poetic. It is poetic justice.

Read it. It won't take long and it will haunt you for a long time afterwards.

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