“The story of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ is difficult to describe. Usually we give you 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 to read without knowing what it is about.”
So goes the description on the back of cover of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.’ My choice for the title of the post doesn't leave much to your imagination about the story of the book.
It is, by far the most subtle book on the Holocaust I have ever read. Everything is suggestive and you have to draw your own conclusions. The story is told from the eyes of a 9 year old Bruno, whose father is a high ranking Nazi Officer. Their life changes with a visit from The Fury (Obviously mispronounced, I think we all know who he is.) Bruno is suddenly moved from his home in Berlin to the countryside. 'Out-With' (Mispronounced again!)is his new home and Bruno dislikes it a lot. It is smaller, full of soldiers and no one to play with.
From the window of his new house, he could see a large number of people in ‘Striped Pyjamas’. Upon asking his 12 year old sister about them, She replies that they are Jews.
Bruno asks, “If they are Jews, then what are we?”
Unsure, the Sister replies, “Err.. the opposite.”
The innocence of Bruno kills you as much as the horror of the Holocaust disgusts you. Slowly, Bruno realises the cruelty and the horror of ‘Out-With’ and a twist of fate brings him face to face with the ogre of the Holocaust.
The story breaks your heart. Makes you despise our capability for cruelty. While the book is primarily for children, I think that children might not relate to the book given it’s timeframe and the fact that the events mentioned are older than even the kid’s parents. I am going to get a 15 year old to read it for me and I will ask his reaction. For adults, I recommend this book very strongly. A must read for experience of a long lost innocence..!