Rate this book:


Description, Categories and Awards


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:


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is the 5th novel by Irish author John Boyne. It is a holocaust tale from a different perspective: that of the naïve and innocent young son of a concentration camp commandant. He asks his father when they arrive if his father has done something bad at work to be punished in this way, being sent by the Fury to this awful place, Out With. Bored, and missing his friends in Berlin, Bruno eventually sets out to explore, and meets, on the other side of a big fence, a boy in striped pyjamas. It is a friendship with tragic consequences. The device of using a child’s narration to describe something he cannot understand, but that is perfectly clear to the adult readers, is a clever one, but some glaring inconsistencies make this story less credible than it could have been, and perhaps detract from its strength. Bruno seems too naïve for a German 9 year-old in 1943, especially about Jews and Hitler; the idea that Shmuel has the time and opportunity to sit alone by the fence daily seems very unlikely; that the fence is not regularly patrolled, and that it has a gap the size of a small boy, again unlikely; the other children in this novel also seem far too naïve. The Fury and Out With, I can accept as a literary device, and these are effective, in their way. Inconsistencies aside, Boyne does depict the setting very skilfully and builds the main character well. As a Holocaust fable, I guess it gets a message across, but I’m not sure for whom or what exactly that message is: maybe, tell your children the truth, don’t try to protect them from uncomfortable facts? I enjoyed reading it but I thought The Book Thief was much better.