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Reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Sunday Salon.com
pajamasLast week I attended a reading of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas at a local bookstore. It is a 2006 novel by Irish novelist John Boyne. I have not read the book yet, but decided to go to the reader against my principle to see how parents receive the heavy subject matter on which the book focuses. Against the odd that boys usually don’t read as much as girls do, most of the kids who sat cross-legged and listened raptly the story to be told were preteen boys!

When Boyne finished his first draft, he gave it to his agent, saying, “I’ve written this book, it’s very different to anything I’ve done before. I think it may be a children’s book but I think adults might like it too.” The book is about a young boy, Bruno, the son of a Nazi commander general. From his bedroom window, Bruno spots a fence behind which he sees many people in ‘striped pyjamas’. These are Jews, and they are in a Nazi concentration camp.

I started reading it today but I have to wrap up Cutting for Stone and write a review for it. The 535-page novel is an epic that explores human connection and dignity of sickness. I strongly recommend the book, which gives a very graphic delineation of life and Enthiopia and the poverty-stricken neighborhoods in America. At some points it brings tears to my eyes when it muses on what physicians can really do for patients with terminal illness. “Words of comfort.”

In the next two weeks I plan to focus on reading two books for the Man Booker Prize Challenge. Forgive me if I’m a tad sluggish in returning your comments, as I’ll be hip deep grading final exams and papers. I also have to shop for the books that I have pledged for my high school holiday gift drive.

14 Responses

  1. Cutting for Stone sounds interesting, Matt. Very thought provoking.

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one I’ve been interested in. I have heard really good things about it and my interest in that particular time in history make it impossible to resist.

  2. I very much enjoyed The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I don’t know whether it’s an adults’ books or a children’s book: it’s never explicitly specified in it what is actually happening (although to everyone who knows about Auschwitz and what happened, it’s obvious), so there has to be an understanding there first.

  3. I have heard so many good things about The Boys in the Striped Pajamas and the movie has lured me to read the book. I’ll keep my eye on it.

    Cutting for Stone has been on my list since you first mentioned it! 🙂

  4. Has anyone seen the movie? I don’t think it received very good reviews, but I like to reserve judgement.

  5. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is on my extensive hold list at the library. I am looking forward to sharing it with my sons, then seeing the movie together.

    I am happy to know that young boys received it so well.

  6. I reviewed the book on my site; check it out.

    Reading Matters saw the movie, Click on her link on the right and then search for Striped Pyjama and the movie review will come up.

  7. I want to read this book! I’ve read several good reviews on it so this book has really piqued my interest! I knew there’s a movie adaptation of it but I suppose I’ll have to read the book first before watching it.

  8. Literary Feline:
    I heard the author doesn’t expose the full history of the Holocaust in the book in order to accommodate the young-adult readers. I’m looking forward to reading it. 🙂

    Cutting For Stone is a great epic story . I highly recommend it.

  9. Fern:
    So I heard. Thanks so much for the heads up. I plan to read the book soon so I can go watch the movie. 🙂

  10. John:
    Dr. Verghese will make an appearance at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park on the day of release, February 9, 2009. You should consider going to hear him. 🙂

  11. Sandy:
    It’s probably because the book itself has dodged some of the most heartrending facts of the Holocaust. But I still plant to see it after I read the book. 🙂

  12. Endnotes:
    I’m always excited to see how kids and teens are riveted at a book. 🙂

  13. Isabel:
    Thanks for the heads up and links! I’ll head over there. 🙂

  14. Melody:
    I always read the book first before if I watch the movie. 🙂

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