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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas [Hardcover]

John Boyne
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (697 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 Sep 2006
Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (12 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385610556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385751063
  • ASIN: 0385751060
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 14.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (697 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,643,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. The winner of two Irish Book Awards, he is the author of eight novels for adults and four for younger readers, including the international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than six million copies worldwide. His novels are published in over forty-five languages. He lives in Dublin.

Product Description

Amazon Review

John Boyne's The Boy in Striped Pyjamas will no doubt acquire many readers as a result of the subsequent film of the novel, but viewers of the latter would do themselves a favour by going back to the spare and powerfully affecting original book. Bruno is nine years old, and the Nazis’ horrific Final Solution to the ‘Jewish Problem’ means nothing to him. He's completely unaware of the barbarity of Germany under Hitler, and is more concerned by his move from his well-appointed house in Berlin to a far less salubrious area where he finds himself with nothing to do. Then he meets a boy called Shmuel who lives a very different life from him -- a life on the opposite side of a wire fence. And Shmuel is the eponymous boy in the striped pyjamas, as are all the other people on the other side of the fence. The friendship between the two boys begins to grow, but for Bruno it is a journey from blissful ignorance to a painful knowledge. And he will find that this learning process carries, for him, a daunting price.

A legion of books have attempted to evoke the horrors of the Second World War, but in this concise and perfectly honed novel, all of the effects that John Boyne creates are allowed to make a maximum impact in a relatively understated fashion (given the enormity of the situation here). The Boy in Striped Pyjamas is also that rare thing: a novel which can affect both children and adults equally; a worthy successor, in fact, to such masterpieces as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye -- both, of course, books, dealing (as does this one) with the loss of innocence. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"An account of a dreadful episode, short on actual horror but packed with overtones that remain in the imagination. Plainly and sometimes archly written, it stays just ahead of its readers before delivering its killer punch in the final pages" (Nick Tucker Independent)

"A small wonder of a book. Bruno's education is conducted slowly, through a series of fleeting social encounters rather than by plunging him into a nightmare landscape" (Guardian)

"An extraordinary tale of friendship and the horrors of war seen thorugh the eyes of two young boys, it's stirring stuff. Raw literary talent at its best. More please!" (Irish Independent)

"Quite impossible to put down, this is the rare kind of book that doesn't leave your head for days. Word of mouth should be strong and this has the potential to cross over to an adult audience. A unique and captivating novel, which I believe deserves huge success" (Becky Stadwick The Bookseller)

"Brilliantly written, superbly conceived novel, ending with words as bleakly ambiguous as any I have ever read. Boyne's ability to lead us on with crystal clear prose so that we unthinkingly fall into the elephant trap reminds me irresistably of another Irishman - Jonathan Swift" (Dennis Hamley The School Librarian) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
392 of 418 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A READ TO REFLECT ON 8 April 2006
By A Customer
When I bought this book I wasn't sure what to expect; the blurb was very secretive about the content of the book. I was reading it with the thought of passing it on to my year 6 class, to try and lure them away from J.Wilson's teen-reads!
At first, it felt like a light read, for a book which says it isn't suitable for nine year olds; however, it becomes a lot darker the further you get into the story. As an adult, you can see beyond what the child sees and hears (this can be disturbing at times). I could not put this book down and read it in two days!
I won't spoil the ending for those who choose to buy it. The book as a whole left me thinking, which is a good thing. I am not sure if I would recommend it to the majority of my 11 year olds;however, I think a mature child would find it a thoughtful read.
I will be passing it on to one or two adults and children; I also think I may read it again in time I think a second reading may bring more subtext to the suface.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE
I think this is a terrific book, one that crosses over the boundary between children and adult fiction to appeal very widely. However, it is still a very disturbing portrait of Nazi Germany, vividly showing how fascist ideology and a patriarchal culture twisted and distorted the world - and could do so again. The ending is as powerful as any I've read in a work of fiction. What prevents me giving it five stars through is that the author never completely convinced me that the nine year old son of a high ranking Nazi official living in Berlin could absorb so little of what was going on around him.
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170 of 186 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A parable that will stay with you... 13 Sep 2008
By Michelle Moore TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I'm sure that this is a book that most people have now heard of, especially with the film now released. However, it's probably approached with as least pre-information as possible. I prefer the synopsis that the book originally had..

"The story of "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about. If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence. We hope you never have to cross such a fence."

It is listed as a children's book, but it's not for younger children, and it's certainly an adult book aswell. If you haven't yet read it, don't go searching the reviews, just pick up the book, and read it in the way it was intended.

The book is told in a simple manner, reflecting the innocence and naivety of Bruno. I believe it's meant to be read in the same way as a parable or fable, it's not meant to be a historically accurate text. To me, it was a simple, very effective piece of story telling, which brought me to a stand still, made me cry, and has stayed very much in my thoughts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
When a book is reviewed as often as The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas, it is usually indicative of a great story that enthuses people to debate in public the merits or otherwise. The tell-tale signs of success in the case of John Boyne's efforts are that people have enjoyed the plot and debated the style - I think writers should always challenge readers' traditional comforts and boundaries.

I am in no doubt the author's choice of perspective and prose make this book accessible to many age groups, but I would especially encourage Years 8 and 9 in secondary schools everywhere to read, study and enjoy.

A wise reviewer has suggested readers should avoid the synopsis on the front and back covers and I agree wholeheartedly with this assertion. John Boyne has written a wonderfully provocative story that encourages the reader to experience an important historical period through the eyes of a nine year old boy. Learn, as he does, how his world is changing and what matters to a young boy through relationships with the family, friends, perceived strangers and the boy in the striped pyjamas.

Try and avoid the spoilers and jump straight to page one, it's an easily accessible read and you'll probably have it finished in a couple of days. For me, it doesn't make it any less enjoyable.
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164 of 185 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Judging a book by its cover 9 Dec 2006
I have to confess, this is really a review of the cover of the book - specifically the creamy-beige softback edition. The book itself has been extensively reviewed elsewhere, and I, like many, found it superb.

The front inside flap of the hardcover edition reads as follows: "The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give clues about the book on the jacket, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about............". The back flap contains a few terse details about John Boyne, and the back is blank.

I knew nothing about the book when I picked it up from a colleague at work, and began reading in exactly the frame of mind suggested above. I was soon immersed in the little-boy world of Bruno. It was soon evident from people's names that he was in Germany (or possibly Austria), and that his father was an important man; but apart from that, I knew as little about the external world as Bruno did; and so it continued for several pages, until gradually the context of the story became clearer.

To put the reader into the mindset of another person is a great literary skill, and John Boyne carries it off very well - reminiscent of Mark Haddon with "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time". Unfortunately, this paperback edition, rather like an over-excited child, insists on giving away both the context and a significant part of the plot on the back cover. I can't help feeling that Mr Boyne must have wept when he saw how his carefully-constructed narrative had been undermined by this clumsy piece of publishing.

I urge the reader to read no more reviews of this book, but to go out and buy (or order) the hardcover edition - the one with the blue stripes - and enjoy a fine and thought-provoking read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
This book is very powerful and a eye-opener for anyone how reads it. The book really makes you think about what people went through. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Amber Bentley
2.0 out of 5 stars A very moving and upsetting book...
This book is the most moving book I have ever read. I was crying my eyes out when I finished it. I've read this book 5 times now and still when I finish the book I always cry. Read more
Published 2 days ago by LDB
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT
Published 3 days ago by christine horrocks
5.0 out of 5 stars The best
Very good

I recommend to people of all ages

Best book I have ever read

The adventure never ends there
Published 3 days ago by good
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving but amazing book!
This book was fantastic! It shows that child innocence can be fatal! Bruno has no ides what Shmeul is going though on the other side of the fence and doesn't sympothise as much a... Read more
Published 5 days ago by sjd macfarlane
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is very good; it's worth it
I'm 11 years old and I've just finished the book. Every night I tried to read 1 chapter, but the book was very entertaining, so I couldn't leave it. Read more
Published 5 days ago by David Cook
5.0 out of 5 stars book
Lovely book,sad story I needed it for college to help with homework, book came on time thank you for your service
Published 7 days ago by eroline
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
This is a very heart warming book filled with friendship, love and so.much more. It was a good book but sooooo sad at the end xxx I think it's for people from the age of 11+ .....
Published 7 days ago by superstar
5.0 out of 5 stars The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Having just returned from Poland where I visited the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau I was very keen to read this book. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Bridie
4.0 out of 5 stars Pyjamas
Great book. Would definitely reccommend people interested in the war from a different perspective to read this. Shocking ending too!
Published 14 days ago by E. Watts
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dangerous historical inaccuracy 31 7 Nov 2011
Surely the wire would have been electrified? 17 28 Sep 2011
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