John Boyne - the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

I’ve read irish writer John Boyne's fourth novel; The Boy In A Striped Pyjamas, which probably is the first children’s book related to Holocaust. It's a touching tale of an odd friendship between two boys in horrendous circumstances and a reminder of man's capacity for inhumanity.

  Bruno is a nine-year-old boy growing up in Berlin during World War II. He lives in a five-storey house with servants, his mother and father and 12-year-old sister, Gretel. His father wears a fancy uniform and they have just been visited by a very important personage called the Fury. As a consequence of this visit, Bruno's father gets a new uniform, his title changes to Commandment and they find themselves moving to a new home at a place called Out-With.

  When Bruno gets there he is immediately homesick. His new home is smaller, full of soldiers and there is no one to play with. From his bedroom window, however, he notices a town of people dressed in striped pyjamas separated from him by a wire fence. When he asks his father who those people are, he responds that they aren't really people.

  Bruno is forbidden to explore but boredom, isolation and curiosity become too much for him. One day, he heads outside and follows the wire fence. He spots a dot in the distance on the other side of the fence and as he gets closer, he sees it's a boy. Excited by the prospect of a friend, Bruno introduces himself. The Jewish boy's name is Shmuel. Almost every day, they meet at the same spot and talk. Eventually, for a variety of reasons, Bruno decides to climb under the fence and explore Shmuel's world.

  This is where the novel gets extremely clever and touching. It’s elegant story-telling with emotional impact is given its perfection with a stunning ending. As Bruno is discovering the world of Shmuel, their barrack is orderer to take a shower. I won’t say reveal anymore.

All in all, it’s a great book, which reminds you of how cruel the world is. If you’re going to read the book; be...