The book was plain enough by all appearances. No text on the back at all. Only the title and author's name on the front. Two-tone striped fabric as the jacket image. Even the synopsis on the inside gave very little away.
"The story of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the jacket, 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.
Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter such a fence."
I couldn't agree more with this, but they've made it into a movie so now we all know what it's about. Or at least we think we do.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas tells the story of a small German boy named Bruno and the year he spent living in a new house far, far away from his beloved home in Berlin. Bruno doesn't like living in Out-With where there are no people to play with, but the Fury has big things in mind for his father, so he, his mother and father, and his sister, who is a Hopeless Case, pack all of their belongings, even the things Bruno had hidden in the back of his wardrobe that belong to him and are no one else's business, and take a train which has much more room on board than the other train that pulls out across the platform which is packed full of sad looking people with haunted eyes.
Bruno's narration was straighforward, skewed as it was by the veil of innocence. There were many things he didn't understand, like why is there such a large fence behind his new house? Why are all the small boys and big boys, fathers and grandfathers, uncles, and people who live on everybody's road but don't appear to have any relatives at all on the other side of the fence wearing the same striped pajamas? Why does his new friend Shmuel who is so much like himself, they even have the same birthday, fear his father so much when he, Bruno, knows that he is a very kind, albeit strict, person?
The glimpses of what is truly going on that you percieve from his simple interpretations are enough to make your stomach knot. Bruno never correctly names any of the horrors he encounters, but you know what it is he's talking about anyway from your greater depth of knowledge.
Bruno and Shmuel spend a year sitting cross-legged in the dust on opposite sides of the vast and imposing fence talking. It's the strangest friendship either of them has ever had. They never play. They never see each other without the fence between them. They just talk. But it is the most important friendship either of them has ever had.
I've read a bunch of Holosaust and WWII books, The Book Thief, For Freedom, Stones in Water, plus innumerable war movies with my dad, my favorite being the visceral Band of Brothers miniseries, but The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was totally different. It was a tale of innocence in an age of utmost evil. I think Bruno and Shmuel will stay with me forever.
I give TheBoy in the Striped Pajamas...
... Five Zombies.
A book apsolutely worth reading. If you are looking for every side of the story like myself, this is one book you can't miss out on.