The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable

John Boyne, Author . Random/Fickling $15.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-385-75106-3

In 1942 Berlin, nine-year-old Bruno returns from school to discover that his father, a high-ranking military officer, has a new job. He announces that the family—Bruno, mother and his older sister, Gretel—is moving "for the foreseeable future" to somewhere described only as "far away." Their journey unfolds through Bruno's eyes—his poignant initial objection is that the new house is not nearly as nice as the one they vacated. Worse still, he misses his friends. Beyond the tall fence separating his yard from an adjacent compound of crude huts, however, Bruno sees potential playmates, all clad in gray-striped pajamas. Though the publisher has kept plot details under wraps (e.g., cover copy and promotional materials include no specifics), readers with even a rudimentary knowledge of 20th-century history will figure out, before Bruno does, where he lives and why the title boy he meets in secret at the fence each afternoon is pale, thin and sad. The protagonist's naïf perspective is both a strength and weakness of this simple, thought-provoking story. What occurs next door is, in fact, unimaginable. But though Bruno aspires to be an explorer when he grows up, his passivity and failure to question or puzzle out what's going on in what he calls "Out-With" diminishes him as a character. It strains credulity to believe that an officer's son would have absolute ignorance about the political realities of the day. But that is the point. How could the world outside the fence not have known, or have known and failed to act on, what was happening inside it? In the final pages, the tension rises precipitously and the harrowing ending, in which Bruno does finally act, is sure to take readers' breath away. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/17/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
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FORMATS
Paperback - 201 pages - 978-7-5613-4014-1
Hardcover - 978-7-5613-5586-2
Hardcover - 233 pages - 978-4-00-115623-2
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-307-49423-8
Hardcover - 247 pages - 978-0-7862-9425-1
Library Binding - 215 pages - 978-0-385-75107-0
Compact Disc - 4 pages - 978-0-7393-3705-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7393-4828-4
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-00976-9
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