Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne

Published in 2006. 218 pages.

I had The Boy in the Striped Pajamas on my to-read list earlier this year, so I jumped at the chance to read and discuss it with the Book Buddies. I knew the basic premise of the book - a young boy whose father is a commandant at "Out-With" befriends a Jewish boy of the same age on the other side of the fence - but I was completely unprepared for how profound I would find it to be.

The subtitle of this book is A Fable. It can be read as a simple young adult historical fiction novel, but I think that it is much more. My thesaurus says that fable, allegory, and parable are synonyms, each meaning "a story intended to teach a basic truth or moral about life." To me, that is what this book is. I do not think the book was intended to be read literally - although the setting and situation are historical. It is because the book is a fable that it has great power - power to make us contemplate its message, power to alter our thinking, power to stay with us for a long time.

(You can read more of my thoughts about the book in my posts on the Book Buddies blog here and here. But be forewarned: there are spoilers there, as the discussion is based on the premise that the participants have already read the book.)



  1. I wonder why it seems like this is the time of year for everyone to read historical novels.

    I'm almost done with Tan Twan Eng's amazing "The Gift of Rain." I don't seek out historical novels, but the good ones can be truly amazing.

  2. Can't wait to read this. First, I have to finish Eat, Pray, Love. I have marked so many passages that I know I will never get back to. I am also reading Kabul Beauty School. Really interesting.

  3. I am excitedly looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the great review.

  4. I'd never heard of this one, but it's going right to my wish list now! Sounds wonderful! My daughter and I are doing Animal Farm for school right now. Sounds like this would be a wonderful follow-up as an example of another allegory. And that's all beside the fact that it just sounds like a really good, powerful book! Thank, Alison!

  5. I must read this one soon. Maybe postpone the reading of Eragon and finish this one first. It's been sitting in my TBR for more than 2 months...