The German boy, raised in Berlin, who thinks that Der Führer is "The Fury" and Auschwitz is "Out-With," despite being corrected several times and seeing it written down? Instead, I can start with the plot holes big enough to drive a truck through: that Bruno, whose father is a high-ranking official in "The Fury"'s regime, doesn't know what a Jew is, or that he's living next door to a concentration camp. Or even the author's refusal to ever use the word "Auschwitz," in an effort to "make this book about any camp, to add a universality to Bruno's experience." That last is from an interview with the author that appears at the end of the audio version. In this case, though, I feel like, due to the fictionalizing of it, the book is far enough removed from Auschwitz that it's okay to be negative about the book without being insensitive about the Holocaust.
"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" would easily top my list of "Worst Books about the Holocaust." I am writing as one who was there -- I was once myself a boy in striped pajamas and am a survivor of six German concentration camps. This book is so ignorant of historical facts about concentration camps that it kicks the history of the Holocaust right in the teeth. John Boyne's premise is that the nine-year old son of the commandant of Auschwitz, bored with his isolated life, takes walks to the fence surrounding this infamous camp and meets there a nine-year old inmate who is on the other side of the fence.
Insipid And Smarmy: this book was not meant for kids to read. It's meant for adults who know about the Holocaust already, so they can read it and sigh over the precious innocent widdle children's adorable misunderstanding of the horrible events surrounding them and how they still remain innocent and uuuuuuggggggghhhhh. Okay, so maybe this kid's too young to be in Hitler Youth (his sister isn't though, but for some reason she's not in it either), but come on - he thinks "Heil Hitler" is just a polite way to end a conversation. A nine-year-old boy growing up in a military household in Nazi Germany doesn't know what Heil Hitler means. All of this comes back to my original thesis: John Boyne thinks that children are idiots. Look, Boyne: just because you don't understand anything (history, children, good writing) doesn't mean the rest of us are quite so useless.
I seriously suggest you read about what happened to real children in the Holocaust. These children were subjected to indescribable mistreatment for days. (ref.The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939 - 1945) Or the incident of the young German soldier participating in the evacuation of the patients in the hospital in the Warsaw Ghetto. Bruno's ignorance of basics, impossible when he would have been in the Hitler Youth and the Nazi education system.This travesty of the Holocaust is called a 'fable' as if with all its faults, it has special claim on some gravitas, thus giving Boyne justification for this lame expose of racism. It also is an implausible piece of Holocaust sentimentality and a stampede away from having to swallow the bitter pill of reality.
The trick of the story is that Bruno doesn't realise the horror of what goes on behind the barbed wire, where everyone wears striped pyjamas, even when he befriends a boy of the same age at a corner of the camp. What is even more insulting to readers is that Boyne has responded to this widespread point of criticism by saying that anyone who thinks the boy is too naive is denying the holocaust! It might have worked better if Bruno had been 5 or 6, but I suppose the target audience would have been less willing to read it, so the result is a book that isn't really suitable for any age group. Postscript 1 Arising from Kelly Hawkins' review: Boyne says: I think the most frequent criticism of the book in the years since its been published is that Bruno is too naive. For all the criticisms you can make, I always feel thats the wrong one because hes grown up in a house with his father wearing a uniform, so I always think why would be question it? When he goes to the fence, and when he asks that question, he is kind of representing the rest of us who are trying to understand the Holocaust and find some answers to it. Postscript 2, October 2015 His new book has a similar title and another Nazi theme - with Hitler himself this time: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain. Postscript 4, 14 May 2017 In today's Sunday Times, the Prime Minister Theresa May was asked by a 19-year old in her constituency, "Has your thinking ever changed because of a novel?" She replied: "A book that brought something home to me was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
we, as humans, are not born with hatred; its something we learn and acquire throughout life. to see how carefree a child can be in the most horrific of times is so heartbreaking, because it shows he doesnt have to capacity to see how truly monstrous humanity can be.
The author John Boyne did a masterful job of depicting the setting in such vivid detail and exposing the events in a manner that I felt a constant emotional pull as the story unfolded and impending doom lingered on the horizon. I thought it was brilliant of Boyne to tell the story from the perspective of a nine year old German boy as you experience the events of this abominable and unthinkable time in history as a mere complicit bystander, which ultimately leaves you with a sense of hopelessness. Well, my hats off to John Boyne for tackling a story through a unique perspective and presenting a poignant fable that as a reader I willingly suspended my reality and experienced the events in a way that exposed my emotions and feelings to such a raw level.
I was close to two of my grandmothers and one of my grandfathers, because they lived near my mother, brother, stepfather and I. One day, I met a little girl. When my grandfather woke up from his nap and saw me playing with this girl, he was so angry I thought he would hurt her. Why couldnt I play with this little girl? I understand the loneliness Bruno felt all too well.
John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist. His novels are published in over 50 languages.