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.
Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter such a fence.
I actually finished reading this book about 3 weeks ago, but every time I sat down to think about writing a review I was really undecided about what I was going to write about.
The main reason for this is that in discussing even the basics of the plot, you will be giving away major pieces of information about the book itself, and by even knowing just those small things the reading experience will be changed. That is quite unusual in itself because normally you can at least give some details of setting, time frame, basic plot details etc without giving too much away, but with this book you really can't.
There were several times during this YA novel that I had moments where I suddenly got whatever it was I was reading about. For example, it took me about 30 pages to realise exactly what the perspective was that the story was being told from. That may well be a little slower than some readers, but given that the last book I read about a similar time frame had some details in it that I 'thought' might be related to what I was reading about, I am not going to beat myself up about it.
Ultimately, this was a very powerful novel, despite the fact that it is only 180 pages long. There are surprises littered throughout - surprising friendships, surprising discoveries and definitely a surprising ending.
There were times that certain aspects of the writing style got a little irritating - there was a particular phrase that was used to describe the main character's older sister over and over again. As long as you can allow those few flaws to be overlooked, this is a short, emotionally packed young adult story that adults can be challenged by and enjoy.
This is definitely a book to be added to your To Be Read list.
Originally posted on my blog February 2008