Rated 5 of 5 stars
Where to begin in this review? The story itself is wonderfully symbolic and has lots of hidden meaning so this makes the book an exceptional group read for a book club. The story follows Bruno, a 9 year old, who lives in Berlin but is being whisked away to a new home called “Out-With”. As readers will gather, the Holocaust is in its full throws and Bruno’s father is the Commandant at one of the most reknowned concentration camps. Bruno does not understand what his father does and therefore, knows no state of the current political affairs. He is just upset that he has to move to a home outside the fence where men and boys in pajamas roam. He is fascinated by the other side of the fence and his loneliness makes him long to be on the other side with people…because the people there seem to have lots of friends. Bruno is bored at the new home and has no friends until one day, when walking along the fence, he sees a young boy about his age. They strike up conversation and become friends through talking about their lives “before Out-With”. Shmuel becomes Bruno’s greatest friend over the course of a year and he hopes that one day they will be able to be together on one side of the fence. And one day, they do.
Readers will breeze through this novel but feel frustrated with Bruno for his snobbery, lack of empathy and utter naivete. Readers will feel for Schmuel and what he going through on a deeper level. While he doesn’t explain fully to Bruno what is happening on the other side of the fence, he tries his best to remember good times even in the midst of losing those he loves and fearing for his own survival. The ending will be a sad, sad moment but also, it will be incredibly ironic and eerily satisfying.
Raging Book Reviews Highly Recommended