The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, breaking my heart one page at a time

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I had been avoiding reading this book for the longest time. I was made to watch the film adaptation when I was in year 8 and despite being a self-professed lover of all literature WWII based and was too scared to bring myself to pick the book up because the movie scarred me too much. But finally, as a 21-year-old, I picked it up! Reading this as an “adult” definitely changed my perspective compared to how I would have reacted if I was younger. One part of this is due to me sadly having been exposed to more violent acts, both by the Nazis in WWII and in general fiction (both written and cinematic) and in real life, but it is also due to me being able to more fully understand what is going to happen and what Bruno is experiencing, even when he doesn’t know himself.

The most unique aspect of this book has to be that it is told through the eyes of a nine-year-old. This viewpoint means that, as an adult, I am very aware of what Bruno does not understand and of how those around him are reacting to the situation they have found themselves in. This really impacts how we experience his move from Berlin to “Out-With” (Auschwitz) and the people in pyjamas he can see from his bedroom window whom he desperately wants to meet. The innocence of the protagonist completely offsets the horrors which are being carried out in the background, which is a very odd position to be in as a reader as you know of the events which Bruno is blind to but are instead engrossed in the tale of Bruno’s life.

This is a book that I think everybody should read at some point in their life, it emphasises that everybody is essentially the same no matter what labels we assign to ourselves and others. The opposite of what the Nazis stood for and a very important message.

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