The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John BoyneProcessed with VSCO with p5 preset
Published by: David Fickling Books
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, World War II Holocaust
Ratings: 1.5/5
Post Book Thought: …but why…

Berlin, 1942: 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 to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people 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 from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

Yes I know! How could I rate this wonderful story so little?! Well there is a reason, obviously which will follow… now…

Let me begin with a favorite mantra of us avid book readers. The books is better than the movie, the book is better than the movie, the book is better than the movie. So I would suggest you don’t even consider watching the movie if you already haven’t.

This story while truthfully pulls at your heart strings and makes you think about life, karma and injustices that should never be done, proceeds to have plot holes so massive that an entire circus could fall through them.

Beginning with the most excusable, while I am quite suspicious of these there are ways (if you really are dedicated to the cause of protecting the integrity of this book) we can look past them.

We’re looking at Bruno a 9 year old boy of a very high ranking officer so my questions are;

  • How did he not know who the Jews were?
  • How did this kid think that ‘Heil Hitler’ meant some sort of way of saying have a nice day?
  • A German kid pronounced ‘The Fuhrer’ as ‘The Fury’ and Auschwitz as Out-with… how??

Now you might say ‘but he’s a kid! Maybe he was a guarded kid, or just stupid and ignorant, maybe this boy lived in a happy go lucky world of his own’. History lesson!!! Bear with me here, this story begins in 1942, so in 1939 Bruno was about 5/6 years of age. In the year 1939 Germany had officially declared war and the public (children included) cheered for Hitler and his ‘get rid of the Jews!’ ideals. So unless this kid was the ultimate level of stupid he not knowing what ‘Heil Hitler’ meant or not properly even knowing who Hitler was or who the Jews were just seems questionable. Let me also support this argument further by saying that in that time was when all the Jewish houses and stores were raided so this kid would have been walking through rubble on his way to school. Why is his character more like a 9 year old 2016 school boy who doesn’t know anything about WWII ?!!?

Now let’s go to some of the more erroneous details.

A 9 year old at a concentration camp lasted a year, when in reality children below the age of 15 were usually the first to be killed, thereby Shmuel’s very existent is not likely possible.


These were highly guarded camps with electric fences around it, and guards kept on watch there to specifically monitor who went in and out (and anyone caught trying to escape was shot). There was apparently also an inner fence and an outer fence in some areas. Now with all these things going on again could someone please tell me how two little boys from opposite sides of the fence manage to meet each other without going unnoticed for a year?

Also HOW in the end did Bruno manage to crawl under the fence without being electrocuted or caught or shot?!?

Judging by how the main basis of this book is that an unlikely friendship formed between these two boys on either sides of these fences is quite impossible that makes this entire story factually incorrect.

John Boyne I do not know what your intentions with this story are but twisting so many facts of a very real and tragic incident to create a story that sells a lot really does not seem like the nicest thing to do.

So no I do not really recommend anyone reads this or if you do, don’t take it seriously. But if you are looking for some good Holocaust based literature that pays proper homage to what happened I suggest some of the following;

  • The Diary of a young girl, a book by Anne Frank
  • Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
  • An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin by Gad Beck
  • Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance and Rescue by Kathryn J. Atwood.
  • Rena’s Promise: A story of Sisters in Auschwitz by Rena Kornreich Gelissen
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


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