I was disappointed in this novel, I mean for how much people have talked about it and then a movie is made based on this novel, seriously this book needs work. I was so frustrated reading it, I almost stopped and put it away but since I am reading it for a book club I thought I better continue. Why was I so frustrated? It felt so glossy, it never hit on anything important to this time period, it was too juvenile. I read a lot of children’s and young adult novels, novels that pertain to this time period and this one was one major letdown for me.
In the beginning of the novel, I liked Bruno’s confusion and innocence as his family is being relocated because the Fury has big plans for his father. Nine-year-old Bruno knows nothing about what his father does, only that he is important to the Fury and Bruno sees this move as a “great adventure.”
In the new house, his twelve-year-old sister has a forest view out her window but as Bruno looks out his window, his view becomes confusing the further out he gazes. They’re both hoping to find new friends at their new home, as they miss what they had in Berlin. Asking his father about the groups of individuals that he sees out his window, Bruno realizes that the chance of any of them becoming his friend is none as his father tells him that “they’re not people at all, Bruno,” and he has “nothing whatsoever in common with them.” This doesn’t stop Bruno’s curiosity about them yet all through the novel, Bruno is left in the dark. I felt as though he had plenty of opportunity to be educated, to discover what exactly was going on, yet he doesn’t. What about Bruno’s family? How can they leave him in the dark while he is living within feet of a death camp? Did his sister know anything about it since she’s older, did they talk? He had to have heard something from all the individuals coming and going inside their house.
Bruno sees a fence line from his window and he was told to keep away from it yet he doesn’t. He takes this chance and when he does, he proves his father wrong. He comes upon Shmuel, who is a person and he does have something in common with Bruno. I enjoyed this innocent friendship and bond as it started to form. Bruno has lots of questions about the people in the striped pajamas and I was hoping that Shmuel would explain things to him but it seems I was only hoping. They spent lots of time together, these two young boys, talking between the wire fence, I mean a lot of time together and seriously Bruno learns nothing about the truth on Shmuel’s side of the fence.
I did like the ending. I think that is the only thing that saved this novel for me. Moving on……