book reviews, young adult

The boy in the striped pajamas by John Boyne


Title: The boy in the striped pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Edition: Paperback
February 1st 2007 by Definitions (Young Adult)  (first published January 5th 2006)
Pages: 216 pages
Category: Historical Fiction, YA


The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give 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 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. We hope you never have to cross such a fence. 


Warning: Possible Spoilers


On the cover: The cover of the book is a stripe pattern with the colors of gray and light blue. I am not sure if it was supposed to look like the striped pajamas used by the prisoners of the concentration camp. But by the end of the story, I am pretty sure it was the design of the striped pajamas. Somehow, the symbolism of this cover really made me emotional. Before reading it, I thought it was just a minimalist, nice cover. However, after reading the story it had more meaning to me. I never thought that gray-light blue stripes would have a deeper meaning than just plain stripes. I very much appreciate the subtle way the author or book cover designer made the book cover. It seems very innocent but it is not.  

On the story plot: I was baffled by the book’s blurb at the back. Blurbs are there to entice a reader but for this book it was more mysterious than enticing. I like my blurbs to have information about the book. However, I did want to read this book for a very long time, so I read it for the OWLs readathon 2019 or the magical readathon. This fit one of the categories I need to fill so I read it. The story is about a German boy who meets a Jew boy and they become friends. It is a story which reminds us that we are all equal. No one is superior. It starts with Bruno and his family being sent to a concentration camp. Unknown to him, his father is the head of the concentration camp. Because of the isolation, He gets bored in the concentration camp. He goes on an adventure and meets Shmuel who is at the other side of the fence.  Shmuel is one of the inhabitants of the small community which Bruno sees when he looks through his bedroom window. At first, they become friends because they have the same birthday. They continually meet one another and days just seem to pass by with stories and conversation. By the end of the story, Bruno does not know that Shmuel is living in a concentration camp. The author captured how innocent we all can be. I was not expecting the ending to be the ending. Since, I’m a sucker for happy endings this was not in my alley. However, in consideration that it is set in a concentration camp and the World War 2 I should just expect it to have a sad if not glum ending.

On the characters:  I love that Bruno is so unassuming. He is naïve to a fault but knows that something is not right. It is frustrating to read. I like how he made friends with Shmuel. Also, on Shmuel’s side, he tried to come and meet Bruno even if it was very dangerous. I like that their friendship was so innocent. I just wished that they had a better ending. However, the story won’t be very effective on sharing its lesson if the ending did not happen. For the other characters, I loved Bruno’s grandmother. She was the only one who thought Bruno’s dad was doing a bad thing. At least, she tried to oppose her son’s thoughts.  

All in all: I liked the story even if it made me glum. It has a five hearts rating from me. Firstly, I feel that the author researched a lot before making this novel. It was well made. The simple way he wrote the story made it a treat to read. It was straight forward and simple like Bruno. Another point is the message of the story is a reminder to everyone. No one is superior, we can all be friends and children are the best when it comes to being less judgmental. I love that the story is not that long. It could be read in half a day and your heart would be broken after. The story is still with me, it has emotionally touched me. I would reread it just to remind me that in sad stories, lesson could be learned.     


Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion on the story. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my own copy of The boy in the striped pajamas by John Boyne. The book photo and synopsis here is from



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