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The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about. If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence. We hope you never have to cross such a fence.
An interesting story about a boy, Bruno, who has to move to a new house, and how he makes a friend there. But the friend lives on the other side of the fence and can't ever come over to visit Bruno. And the friend only wears gray striped pajamas--outdoors! With hundreds of other skinny dirty people in striped pajamas. Bruno lives in Germany during the Third Reich, but he is only 9, and very naive, so he doesn't know anything about the "Fury" as he calls the Fuhrer, or what else is going on in his country, and he is very confused about all of this. This book is simple enough to read, but it packs an emotional wallop by the time you get to the end. A memorable book about a timeless subject, the Holocaust.


A okay quick read. I don't really know what to think about it at the end. I'm a little confused as to how the son of someone so involved in the war could have utterly no idea about what's going on. I would have thought that he and his sister would have been model students of Hitlers Youth.

All in all, it was an okay read - I know he's very specifically called this a “fable” so that he didn't have to be historically accurate at all - but... I feel like it could be so much more. He had a good... something, I'm not sure what, and it feels like it fell out a little somewhere along the line.

A shame. It's still good, but other books out there do so much more with so less.


I read this book, not knowing what to expect. I laughed at our main character, Bruno; who was such a "boy." If you have a son, then you know what I mean. He was truly innocent, brave, adventurous, sweet, and smart. I could go on, but then I am biased.

Bruno and his family; who are German; move from Berlin to "Out-With" due to his fathers new position within the army. The "Fury" appointed him a position as commandant over "Out-with"; which Bruno does not like. He has no friends, no fun, and the house is too small. He cannot even ride a banister down the staircase. Bruno's loneliness does not last too long; before you know it he decides to explore... and explore he does. For you see, the house his family moves into is on the other side of the fence. The fence separates the people in the striped pajamas from Bruno and his family. Bruno being Bruno, does not see the fairness in this and decides to find out why by exploring; especially with so many other children over there to play with. (Do you see the horror; the innocence??)

Bruno meets a boy named Shmuel, who just happens to be the same age, with the exact same birthday. These two boys immediately become friends; and therein lies the tragedy. After months of seeing each other through the fence, Bruno and Shmuel decide to explore more together after Shmuel loses his father. This task becomes quite easy since Bruno had to have his hair shaved because of a case of lice. (Do you see??)

On the last day of Bruno's short and amazing life, he removes his clothes outside the fence, and changes into pajamas to better fit in amongst the people on the other side. After all day searching with no luck, Bruno decides to leave. He leaves too late; a whistle is sounded and the boys get mixed up with a large group of men who are herded into a large building that is quite warm and dry (from all the rain.... do you see). The last "image" is of the two boys holding hands. The two friends holding hands.

I have really simplified the horror of the things that went on in this book. The horror of Auschwitz; The Furor, the tragedy of the Holocaust and Brunos own sweet and horrifying tale. In the second to last chapter, I saw where this was going and wanted to put it down immediately. When his head was shaved due to lice infestation, I had the inkling, that little chill down my spine that said, "No Way!!"

Children are so innocent.

I wept

I very much enjoyed Bruno's character and the way that his young, innocent mind processed the happenings around him. It was a unique perspective on the holocaust. The last chapter of this novel, unfortunately, was awful. It was terribly put together and felt as though everything was tidied up rather hastily. It was an unfortunate end to a novel that I had thoroughly enjoyed up until the end.

Full review at:


Originally posted at Novel Reveries

“What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?” (pg. 100)

A story of pure innocence and the power of seeing the world through a child’s eyes, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a simple study of the injustice of WWII. This is a moving and powerful tale that takes a subject such as this large war and takes it down to an elementary scale that our youth can better understand. I give this five stars because, had I read this in my youth, I would easily want to read it again. Even at the age I’m at now, I wouldn’t mind reading it again to look more for the symbology and allusions.

“‘The thing about exploring is that you have to know whether the thing you’ve found is worth finding. Some things are just sitting there, minding their own business, waiting to be discovered. Like America. And other things are probably better off left alone.” (pg. 114)

I initially picked up this book, although it’s been on my to-read list for some time, because my youngest brother had to read it for school. I read it to help him, but really, although he’s only a few chapters in so far, he’s helped me. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how Bruno was mispronouncing “Out-With” and didn’t know what he was supposed to be referencing; my youngest brother, through a discussion in his class, told me that it’s supposed to be a concentration camp called Auschwitz, one of the largest concentration camp networks that killed an estimated 1.1 million people. After this realization I started thinking of this book in a different way. For example, I don’t remember Hitler being called “The Fury,” as well as I couldn’t make out whatever derogatory name the soldiers were calling the jews in the book. The Fury is Bruno’s misunderstanding of “Der Fürer” and if I did re-read this book I must keep in mind to read it through the eyes and understanding of a child. I have to say, on that point, that a nine-year-old (today, at least) would be a little more aware of their surroundings and what’s really going on, based off of whatever they overhear from adults.

“‘We should never have let the Fury come to dinner,’ she said. ‘Some people and their determination to get ahead.’” (pg. 40)

This book is a great, simple introduction to children, towards the study of the Holocaust and the travesties of the second world war. Bruno shows how he relates to people, not by basing them off their religion, looks or creed, but by their attitude, persona and treatment of others. He found a friend in Shmuel and together they defied and rose above what even grown adults could not do.

“‘You’re my best friend, Shmuel,’ he said. ‘My best friend for life.’” (pg. 213)

First Line: “One afternoon, when Bruno came home from school, he was surprised to find Maria, the family’s maid - who always kept her head bowed and never looked up from the carpet - standing in his bedroom...” (pg. 2)

Last Line: “Not in this day and age.” (pg. 215)


“‘Accept the situation in which you find yourself and everything will be so much easier.’” (pg. 53)

“‘When I was a child,’ Bruno said to himself, ‘I used to enjoy exploring. And that was in Berlin, where I knew everywhere and could find anything I wanted with a blindfold on. I’ve never really done any exploring here. Perhaps it’s time to start.’” (pg. 99)

“It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were all exactly the same really.” (pg. 204)

“And that’s the end of the story about Bruno and his family. Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age.” (pg. 216)

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