Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
By John Boyne
Random House Children’s Books
October 2007
240pp

The Short of It:

A short, powerful book that leaves you speechless.  

The Rest of It:

If you’ve ever come across a copy of this book, then you know from the book’s jacket,  that nothing is shared about the story. No blurb. No comment, other than you need to experience this for yourself.

Since I agree with this statement, I am not going to give you any of the story here, which makes for a very strange book review, but what I will say is that what started off as innocent enough, ended with such a punch to my gut that it actually left me speechless. I spent several moments sitting in the same position, letting the ending sink in. I could not move.

This is a children’s book and could easily be read by a child between the ages of 10-12 but the themes are very mature and although there is nothing graphic within its pages, the reader can read between the lines and get the gist of it.

Although this is a very unconventional review,  this is an important book and should be read by as many people as possible.

Source: This copy was checked out from the library.

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35 thoughts on “Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”

  1. I SO appreciate this review! I’ve read too many; with positive and not-so positive reactions that I don’t quite know if I want to read this or not. You’ve almost convinced me. (as well as remind me that I need to read Night which I have in house…)

  2. I agree that this was a powerful book. I remember the day I finished it I happened to be home from work and I just set the book down and cried. Have you seen the movie yet?

  3. I know the jist and I saw the trailer for the movie. I also know that the story is heartbreaking. I’m thinking about reading this book for the Read the Book/See the Movie Challenge, and I could share it with my kids.

  4. This is a powerful book and I completely understand why you avoided saying much in your review. I read this book during the summer and haven’t reviewed it yet. I kept trying to do it and couldn’t think of what to say. I felt the same way at the end and was shocked and I cried also. I have the movie but haven’t watched it yet. I’ve heard that they’ve changed some things. I may do a book & movie review after I watch it. I agree with you about that the themes are mature for young children. My son is 11 and I don’t think that he could handle the book.

  5. I am reading this book right now and am about half-way through. Thanks to your notes, I will plan to finish the book at a time when I can have a few moments to reflect!

  6. We own the book (my step daughter’s whole high school had to read it a few years ago–I question whether or not they any of them did actually read it!) so it has been on my 13 and 14 yo daughter’s and my own TBR pile. We happened to come across the movie and watched it one Saturday night–let me tell you, this was one powerful movie. The girls sobbed for about an hour, and were very touchy about the mere mention of the book for days! Very emotional.

  7. I saw this movie and it still haunts me. I am always interested in stories dealing with the Holocaust. Knowing what happens in the movie, I don’t think I could bring myself to read this book though. It’s also not a movie I could sit through again. The power of it will stay with me for a long time to come though.

  8. I felt punched in the gut once I finished this book as well; when I read the final page I closed the book and just sat, thinking, then the tears came.
    I’m glad I read the book before seeing the movie.

  9. What a great review, Ti. I have this one to read, and as all gung ho, until I read a different review this week that was not so favorable–which kind of put the breaks on my enthusiasm for it. Your review has renewed my zeal and determination to move it closer to the top of my tbr mountain.
    *smiles*

  10. I read this (Might have reviewed it too) and I loved it, I feel the same as you grabbed me, kicked me in the stomach and then held on to the end

  11. Because of Lisa (Books on the Brain) and her review of this book I read it. I shared the story with my hubby as I was reading it and we were both shocked and disturbed by the ending. The fact that Lisa and one of her daughters read the book for their Mother & Daughter book club put it into perspective that this is a young adult book and that the subtle nuances throughout the book could be confusing and the realization of the meanings horrifying.

    1. I’m going to have to see the movie. I’ve heard so much about it. The book was so brief, yet it was still so powerful. An entire movie would be hard to swallow for me but I feel like I need to see it.

      1. Hi I love to read but didnt know about the book until I had seen the movie. I had a question for a project I am working on. Do the boys play the checkers in the book also? can anyone tell me.

  12. I found you via Terra. My son read this book 2 years ago, he asked me to buy it, and I did and I read most of it before he did. It was very powerful, but so very good. We also saw the movie, what was very well done too.

  13. This has been on my wish list for ages, and yet somehow I still haven’t gotten around to reading it (or adding it to my PBS wish list – I’ll have to take care of that right now).

  14. I am still a little speechless after finishing this book. I am just not sure how to word my thoughts. I was literally laying in bed after finishing the book and realized that I was holding my breath. You will definately need a few moments to take in the story once you have finished it.

    The stories of 2 boys during the Holocaust was brilliantly written. To describe the horrific images through a nieve child’s eyes made it seem even more real than it already was. I don’t want to spoil any part of the book for the future reader, but I will say, this is a must read, a quick read, a powerful story, and one that needs to be shared. I will share it with my children…..when I think they are ready for it. I also plan to try and watch the movie version this weekend and I will let you know what I thought of that as well. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars!

  15. Ok, I saw the movie yesterday….if you have Netflix….it is available on Netflix instant right now. Since the book is told from Bruno’s perspective, the movie gives a little bit more detail about what is going on, but doesn’t go into the political detail. It stays true to the book, with just a few minor changes and I am unsure if that is because of my assumptions from the book or if they were actual changes. For example, I assume the mom and the Lt Kurt were having a trist, but in the movie there was no indication of that. So was that my assumption based on Bruno’s perception? Also there were no “medicinal sherries” taken by the mom. In the movie the mom was much more upset about what was happening to the Jews than was let on in the book, but again, was that just because the book was told from Bruno’s perspective and he was nieve about what was actually going on. At the end of the book, I had to sit and collect my thoughts for a few minutes…at the end of the movie I felt like I was kicked in the gut and needed to throw-up! The movie’s ending does not leave anything to the imagination and you realize exactly what is happening. The actor who played Bruno was such a sweet little boy and the fear was evident on his face. I do think you will appreciate the movie more if you have read the book first, but still encourage you to watch the movie. Just remember that this is NOT a happy story and you will need to prepare yourself for the evil that is occuring in the movie.

    1. Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been so curious about the movie and if it did the book justice. I simply cannot wait to see it now. Your reaction to the movie ending doesn’t shock me. In the book, I can picture the sights and sounds, the look of terror all around but in a movie, it’s given to you on a plate. I do have Netflix and plan to watch it instantly by this weekend. I will let you know my thoughts once I do.

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