I am of the belief that there are a few kind of books.
1) The ones that you can’t get past ten pages.
2) The ones that you forcibly make yourself finish it, and then just feel relief once it is done.
3) The ones that leave you in a happy glow with that silly soppy smile on your face, and a sparkle in your eye, and then you begin comparing reality to the book and want to curse at how unfair reality is and WHERE THE HELL IS MY PRINCE CHARMING.
4) The books that leave you sobbing.
5) And then there is The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. It didn’t leave me sobbing. It left me stricken. I literally gaped at the ending, open-mouthed, willing for it to miraculously change, and when it didn’t I shut the book. Found a lovely spot on the wall. And then glared at it.
This was at 1 in the morning. I glared at the wall and then when the wall looked like it was beginning to shrink with all the hate coming from me, I left it alone and closed my eyes. This book was indescribably. The ending, while ghastly, was perfect to give me a jolt.
Nazi, the Holocaust, everything. We’ve heard it all. And it’s always made me sad, don’t get me wrong. I’ve choked up when I saw the bodies, and felt tears stinging at my eyes when I heard stories.
But I’ve never had one impact me as much as this one did. I’m not going to give you spoilers, so you can breathe a little.
And maybe go online and order the book NOW NOW NOW NOW before you continue reading this review.
Yeah, I know the movie is amazing. But that DOES NOT excuse you from reading this book because of the narrative.
It started off simple and sweet. It reminded me, in fact, of an Enid Blyton novel. Simply because the kid was 9.
And then I read the meaning beneath the words. And that was SO profound, I gasped the entire time. The way Bruno called The Fuhrer as The Fury. Not realizing what he was saying.
“Heil Hitler,” he said, which, he presumed, was another way of saying, “Well, goodbye for now, have a pleasant afternoon.”
It’s funny when you look through the eyes of a nine-year old, but because you have the mind of a whatever-you-are-years old, you know EXACTLY what that poor kid is seeing.
And then you want to scream and flail your arms and shake him so violently, and say, “BRUNO. THIS. THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING.”
But unfortunately there hasn’t been invented a device where we can go inside the book and be of some use to the protagonist, as yet. And so we watch, silent miserable spectators rooted to our spots as we witness the crimes committed around him.
I especially love how he refers to his sister as the Hopeless Case. Yes, capitalized. I adored the writing style because it takes a great deal of talent to fit SO MUCH of depth and meaning in simple words.
Despite the mayhem that followed, Bruno found that he was still holding Shmuel’s hand in his own and nothing in the world would have persuaded him to let go.
This quote. ^ This is what broke me, in the end. And when I say broke, I mean it. When I recounted the story to my mum today, I was literally quivering and I had goosebumps all over.
This book is a MUST-READ and I don’t use that simply. I mean it. All the history books in the world that have recounted tales from Nazi Germany pale in comparison in terms of how much you are affected.
I WANT TO BREAK SOMETHING. NOW.
I’ve never been this emotional, writing a review. But I felt that I would do it justice only in this state. When I am still imprinted and scarred by all those visuals I have in my head.
Read it, I implore you. Yes, IMPLORE. Gah. And remember, read between the lines. For that is where this most depth lies.
“What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?”