The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Written by John Boyne
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

The story opens in Berlin during World War II and is told through the eyes of nine-year-old Bruno who lives with his parents and older sister. His father is something important in the government and one day, on returning home from school, he is told by his mother that, due to his father’s work, they must all leave Berlin and move to a place called Out-With. The new house overlooks an area populated by hundreds of people separated from Bruno’s house by a wire fence.

One day Bruno wanders away from home and meets a boy who always wears blue striped pyjamas, and they become firm friends.

What follows is simply but powerfully told. John Boyne’s style of subtle understatements is enough to describe the horrors of war without having to resort to any descriptions of actual violence at all, but it is all there, and the final chapters leave you reeling. It is a book that, once read, will never be forgotten. Only in one quote from The Irish Examiner is the impression that this is a book for children over 10 but that adults will love it too. Personally speaking, I couldn’t put it down.