The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, by Anastasia (Avanzado 2, 2008-2009)
Under the literary style of a fable, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a moving story about the friendship between two boys in Poland in the hardest time of its history: the Second World War.
Bruno a nine year old and his family, whose father is a commander of the German army, have to leave their comfortable house in Berlin to settle in a gloomy one near a concentration camp in Auschwitz. Bruno's loneliness and his interest in exploration lead him to walk toward a long fence in spite of having been strictly forbidden to get near it. There, he meets Samuel who is sitting just on the other side of the fence. This is the beginning of a secret friendship between these children who have amazing similarities in their life and destiny but great differences in their rights and lifestyle. Their naivety keeps them completely unaware of what is really happening around them.
With a combination of tenderness, the innocent point of view of a nine-year-old boy and the underlying horror of the holocaust, the writer manages to attract the attention of the readers. John Boyne cleverly sets the fence of the concentration camp not only as a symbol that divides two quite different worlds, but also as a means to show us what self-centered, blind and inhuman beings are capable of doing when they become obsessed with power.
I recommend reading this book both to adults and teenagers because it makes readers think of the horror of war and genocide – all those terrible things people did to other people and which should have never happened – in order to firmly reject any other attempt of the kind against humanity, because "War is a crime against humanity."