Published by David Fickling Books on 9/12/06
Genres: Middle Grade, Tough Issues
Source: Gifted ♥
Add to your Goodreads TBR Pile
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.
Interest in the book
The title grabbed me. The back of my book does not have the above synopsis. It is a much simpler synopsis that leaves room for imagination. However, it is pretty obvious, to me, what the story was about from the start. If it is not obvious to you, then I suggest you do not continue reading this review, as you may be spoiled.
The book begins when Bruno comes home and finds his maid, Maria, packing up his clothes. He is infuriated and asks his mother what is happening. She explains that the family is moving. Bruno loves his home and friends in Berlin, and he is quite unhappy about this news. He does not want to leave his ” three best friends for life” or his five-story house that has loads to offer in terms of exploration. He arrives to his new home in “Out-With” and his entire world changes.
Bruno is an interesting nine-year-old who is smart for his age but absolutely clueless about the outside world. This is evident from his many comments about his life. I blame his parents, who have kept Bruno and his 12-year-old sister, Gretel, pretty sheltered. For good reason, in their eyes. It was quite amazing to experience life outside of Bruno’s new home. Throughout the story, Bruno matures greatly from a simple friendship with Shmuel, who lives on the other side of the vast fence that Bruno can see from his bedroom window. Neither boy is aware of the reasons they are different and most live on opposite sides of a fence. Neither boy is knowledgeable as to why they are supposed to hate one another and why they cannot play together.
Bruno’s father is a high-ranking SS official who mans the “Out-With” camp. His mother is a flighty woman who is obviously depressed, and his 12 year-old sister, Gretel, is pretty much a troll. I wanted to kick her on many occasions but she is definitely a product of her environment. It is very obvious that these two children are kept quite sheltered, despite their father’s involvement in such atrocities. They are never allowed in Father’s office, which is “Out Of Bounds At All Times and No Exceptions.” They are given orders and tasks but nothing is ever explained to them. Gretel at one point tries to explain something to Bruno about Jews, but even she can’t identify why they are different and “Opposite” and must “hate” them. His father’s too busy, mother sleeps all the time, and Gretel talks to her dolls, so Bruno is left to his own devices to discover life. You can learn a lot from reading, but children learn about life through socialization with others.
The world is not new and unfortunately, a part of our world’s history. A part we all wish to forget. Bruno is our narrator, and we see the world through his eyes. His innocence makes you gasp, and you immediately wish you could revert back to the days when the world was so simple, when you knew of nothing much other than playing with new toys and new friends.
I’ve seen a ton of criticisms about this book on Goodreads, and while everyone is allowed their opinion, I’m a tad shocked at their responses. Children are children – NOT adults. Bruno was nine-years old and in my eyes, that is pretty young. We’re talking living less than a decade of life. I work with children and while they can be very imaginative, resilient, inquisitive and observant, they are still children with little life experience and even less socialization. And the growth that Bruno experiences is very much apparent. He isn’t the most observant person you will ever meet, but neither is half the world, if you ask me.
Yea, the horrors of the Holocaust were far, far more horrifying than portrayed in this book. However, Bruno was not a prisoner in the camp, and this is a middle-grade book. Let’s keep it kinda not nightmare-inducing, k? I don’t doubt that middle-graders can digest such horrors, but there is plenty of room for discussion with those children once this book is closed. Discussions in which they may learn about far worse scenarios in these camps, but they will have adults available to them in which to process their feelings and thoughts, and that is a much better way to learn and grow and mature and experience life, from my perspective…
And personally, those who complained about such things missed the entire message of this book.
This was a powerful story, full of innocence and compassion and what it means to be human. The ending will leave you feeling many intense emotions. I was not expecting what I received when I opened this book, and it is one I will not soon forget.
What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?
© 2012 – 2013, Smash Attack Reads. All rights reserved.
|Leave a Reply |