The Boy in the Striped PajamasThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Okay, I hated most of this book. I just couldn’t set aside my disbelief that a nine year old wouldn’t know what was going on with the Nazi party and who the Fury was. Especially because the word he’s mixing it up with is in German, his native language, and Fury is English, so it doesn’t really make sense. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief that he would be so incredibly naive. I’m sure there are plenty of nine year olds in Syria right now who have a pretty good idea of what’s going on and can understand who is fighting whom and why, and the human cost of war. I could buy that Bruno wouldn’t know what was actually going on at the concentration camp, but the rest of it was hard to swallow. The characters were pretty one dimensional, and the only one I actually liked was the Grandmother.

However, if you read this like a cautionary fairy tale or a fable, along the lines of Animal Farm, it functions quite well. I’m not sure how to hook high schoolers into this book, however, since it’s told from the totally blind perspective of a child. Though that blind perspective is what allowed Bruno to see Schmuel as a human being when the adults couldn’t.

So… as I’m writing this review, I’m able to see that there was a lot of intentional stuff going on from the author that’s actually pretty smart. I just didn’t realize it until now. Most of the book was annoying to read until the ending.

I applaud any book that will kill the main character, and that reveal was the perfect gut-punch and saved the whole thing from being bothersome and soft. Having read the whole thing now, I see the craft behind it and I applaud this work.

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