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Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Holocaust from a different viewpoint

    History has always been one of my favorite subjects. I’ve always enjoyed reading primary documents to experience the actual history first hand. In tenth grade, I learned about the Holocaust, a genocide that shocked the world; it left me speechless. I was confused why people would do such harsh things. Wanting to learn more, I hit the library. I stumbled upon The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. A book that told the story of two boys with the same age and birthday, separated by a fence.

    When I first read this book, I was saddened and outraged. The book does not focus on the Holocaust but the friendship of two children. The book is told through Bruno, a nine-year-old from a high ranking German family and his friend, Shmuel, who is from a Jewish family. Bruno was unaware of the death camps and the war that was going on, so without knowing, he took orders from his parents. Bruno, oblivious to what was actually going on, one day decided to search for a friend and finds Shmuel. Upon arrival, Bruno and Shmuel are already friends. They both talk, Shmuel focuses on the reality and harshness of the Germans, while Bruno acts naive. Bruno wants to explore the other side of the fence but many questions are left unanswered. Some of these questions being why Shmuel has to wear an armband. One of the things I immediately thought about when Bruno wanted to go over the fence to “explore” was how senseless he was. Bruno’s imaginations and dreams needed a reality check. He has been protected by his parents from the dangers of the real world. Bruno’s parents never told him what was really going on. Similarly, when I was a child my parents protected me from the outside world. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas tells the story of the Holocaust in a completely different point of view and that is why I liked this book.