The title is misleading. Is it a funny book? Is it meant for children? According to the writer John Boyne, he has written this book for children, but what is surprising, is that this is a book for children with a subject of the Holocaust.
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
If you do not wish to know what happens in the story, stop right here!Skip to the next red fonts.
Bruno, a nine year old boy, is the protagonist of the novel. His father is the Commander of a Jewish concentration camp in 'Out-With' (Auschwitz). He has to leave his comfortable five-story home in Berlin, his three best friends for life, his cushy life to live in a whole new place, where nothing is like it was back home. Outside the window of his new home, he sees a long fence and men everywhere, all wearing identical striped pyjamas and caps.
He is confused and lonely. His elder sister, Gretel (The Hopeless Case) offers no solace, instead teasing him like she always did. He hates Lieutenant Kotler, who thinks he is in charge, but really isn't.
One day, Bruno decided on doing some exploring, his favourite activity. He walks along the fence, and finds a boy on the other side. He wears striped pyjamas and a cap, like everyone else. The boy is Shmuel and comes from Poland. They also find out that they were born on the same day. Since that day, they form a friendship, and Bruno comes to meet Shmuel everyday.
Slowly, Bruno forgets his old house in Berlin, and his best friends for life, whose names he even forgets. Soon, his mother gets frustrated of living in Out-With and decides it was time that she and the children went back home. Bruno is sad as he wont get to meet Shmuel anymore. He goes to visit him one last time, and Bruno climbs under the fence and goes to Shmuel's side.
SPOILERS END HERE. SPOILERS END HERE. SPOILERS END HERE. SPOILERS END HERE.
The last two chapters are heart wrenching. Even though there is no detailing of the horrors that prevailed during those times, it is understood to the readers. The writing, though it seems simple and straightforward, is filled with chilling subtexts, especially the last three lines of the book:
"And that's the end of the story about Bruno an his family. Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again.
Not in this day and age."
An amazing read, one which you could go back to over and over again.