Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
by John Boyne

Where is 'Outwith' and who is Bruno?
How is he connected?
Soon he will meet the boy in striped pyjamas and befriend him.
But why must the boy stay behind the wire?
(description taken from

I tried not to read this book for as long as I could. When I read, most often I'm looking for an escape from my daily life...hence, I trend towards fantasy, science fiction, light romances, etc. (The title of my blog reflects this, too!) As a Teen Librarian, though, I do consider it part of my job to read everything that is considered "important." Nutmeg nominees (our state book award), National Book Award nominees, summer reading list books, etc. I also feel I should be able to talk about at least a few books in every genre for reader's advisory purposes.

There are some books, though, that even with this drive, I will do all I can to avoid them for as long as possible. Books dealing with the holocaust are absolutely in this category. I tend to avoid them like the plague...but, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has been on our summer reading lists for the high school age group for a few years now, tons of teens have read and loved it, and my audiobook ran out and I didn't have another one lined up.

So, I broke down and listened to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I finished it several days ago, actually. Usually I finish a book and I go straight home and type up my review. Done. This book, though, was one of those that I still haven't really been able to figure out what I want to say about it.

I went into this experience dragging my feet and have come out recommending this book to every adult I work with. The day that I finished listening to it, I pulled into work with tears in my eyes, an awed look on my face, and I just sat there. It was at least fifteen minutes before I was able to pull myself together to go into work, and then the first thing I did was go talk to the woman I knew had seen the movie to compare experiences!

This book is so well done I can't even verbalize the majesty of it. Boyne dances around the Holocaust in a way that makes it easy to remember the horror without having to directly experience it. The nine-year-old main character's perspective is one of bewildered naivete. His friendship with a boy named Shmuel develops naturally and without artiface.

Even now, I'm having trouble trying to describe the book and how it made me feel. I think that actually says more than whatever I could write. It was powerful. It was touching. It is reverberating with me in a way that few books have...

If you have not read it, yet. Go read it. Even if you hate this type of book, like I do, you should read this one. It is amazing.

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