Honestly, I didn’t feel much while reading this book. I really did try, though.
So for those of you who don’t know me well, I read a lot of books based on holocaust: non-fiction and fiction. I’ll do a detailed post on them collectively soon.
When I finished reading it, I was a little scared to realise that I didn’t really feel anything at the end. For a moment, I wasn’t even sure what happened. I read the e-book version of it so I couldn’t even reason or tell myself that, just maybe, some pages are missing. I was scared because I thought that I’ve become cold towards the whole thing.
So, I decided to surf through Goodreads to see if I was the only one.
Turns out that I wasn’t. As a matter of fact, you’ll find conversations and discussions that are so aggressively against how the book is written. Some people who mentioned that they know holocaust survivors or were one themselves, said that they were just disappointed and angry by some of the story’s details because they were all false. Many people did say that they were emotionless throughout it.
On the other head, there were some who didn’t mind the details and actually really liked the book
I started reading more of these reviews and thoughts and I’d like to post two of each view here:
This one is by a holocaust survivor. He also wrote a book based on his experiences there:
“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” would easily top my list of “Worst Books about the Holocaust.”
I am writing as one who was there — I was once myself a boy in striped pajamas and am a survivor of six German concentration camps. This book is so ignorant of historical facts about concentration camps that it kicks the history of the Holocaust right in the teeth.
John Boyne’s premise is that the nine-year old son of the commandant of Auschwitz, bored with his isolated life, takes walks to the fence surrounding this infamous camp and meets there a nine-year old inmate who is on the other side of the fence. The two boys become friends and continue meeting on a daily basis.
Here is some news for Mr. Boyne. The 10-ft high barbed wire fence surrounding each camp was electrified. Touch if once and you are fried. There was a no-man’s land on each side of the fence; along the inside perimeter of the fence were guard towers; each tower was manned by an armed guard around the clock; each guard was responsible for one segment of the fence within his vision; it was his duty to prevent anyone from approaching the fence, either from the inside, or from the outside; he was under orders to shoot anyone he saw approaching the no-man’s-land.
In addition, along the outside perimeter, prominent signs proclaimed, “STOP – Danger – High-Voltage Electricity.” So that even a dense nine-year-old would get the message, a skull and cross-bones were pictured at the top of each sign.
Let me add this. A nine-year-old boy arriving in Auschwitz-Birkenau on a cattle train would take only a single walk in this camp: from the train to the gas chamber.
“The Boy in The Striped Pajamas” makes a mockery of these very basic facts. It is a fantasy that does untold damage to the cause of truth about the Holocaust. This book has only one purpose: to make a lot of money for the author and the publisher. And this purpose it accomplishes. The publisher recently proudly trumpeted in an ad in the New York Times: over one-million copies sold and still going strong. And that’s not even counting the profits from the revolting movie based on this book.
Author of “MEMORIES OF EVIL” — a factual book about the Holocaust that will never make it on any list of best books about the Holocaust because my book tells it the way it was: there was nothing cute, nothing in any way benign about the concentration camps. These camps were about brutality, starvation, and sheer terror.
This one is by Arlene who seemed to really like the story :
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is truly an amazing yet daunting novel that I will never forget. The author John Boyne did a masterful job of depicting the setting in such vivid detail and exposing the events in a manner that I felt a constant emotional pull as the story unfolded and impending doom lingered on the horizon.
I was recommended this novel a while back while reading The Book Thief, but after finishing that story and experiencing such deep sadness, I knew I couldn’t jump into another novel about the Holocaust for quite some time. I’m glad I waited because as with other works that cover this topic, distance and perspective is key. I feel the author did a grand job of juxtaposing two resounding themes in such a flawless manner; one being of the evil that was the Holocaust; against the second theme that of the innocence of a child.
I thought it was brilliant of Boyne to tell the story from the perspective of a nine year old German boy as you experience the events of this abominable and unthinkable time in history as a mere complicit bystander, which ultimately leaves you with a sense of hopelessness.
The story unfolds the day Bruno arrives home to discover his family is moving from Berlin to Auschwitz where his father will serve as a Commandant for the concentration camp. Bruno is forced to leave his three best friends for life and discovers that life in Auschwitz is lonely and desolate. All that changes the day he meets a boy his exact age and they begin to forge a friendship over the course of year. However, as much as he finds he and Schmuel have in common, living on opposite sides of the fence proves to have a devastating consequence to their friendship.
After completing this book, I did some research on the author and the novel and found that he not only received well deserved praise for this book, but also harsh criticism. As with any piece of literature, when words are committed to page and presented to an audience for their interpretation there will be varying degrees of acceptance and backlash. Couple that with such a sensitive topic and you’re bound to get a reaction. Well, my hats off to John Boyne for tackling a story through a unique perspective and presenting a poignant fable that as a reader I willingly suspended my reality and experienced the events in a way that exposed my emotions and feelings to such a raw level. Well done IMHO.
As for me, like I’ve already mentioned above, it wasn’t a gripping read. But it did leave me hoping that maybe, just maybe someone must’ve been lucky enough to find a friend around and that someone made it easier for them to be in a place like that. Also, it made me utterly hate the boy’s father and other such so-called officers for being involved in something like this.
If you’ve read this book or are planning to read it, feel free to discuss it with me. I’d really like to know what do you think.
You can message me here.
(The above reviews were taken from Goodreads.)
See you soon!