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Boyne, John. The boy in the striped pajamas.

BOYNE, John. The boy in the striped pajamas. Random House, David Fickling. 224p. c2006. 0-385-75107-9. $15.95. J*

The publisher doesn't want reviewers to reveal too much of the plot so readers can bring a fresh eye to the reading experience and its unfolding horrors. (However, the title should be a big clue.) That leaves little else to say except perhaps that this is the story of a sheltered, privileged nine-year-old boy gradually becoming aware of an overwhelming evil. It begins somewhat like a fairy tale, a dark one, with an otherworldly feel, a dystopia. Bruno comes home one day to find his large, beautiful home in an uproar. Mother is unhappy. Father is locked in his office. Servants scurry about. The mansion is to be abandoned for life in the hinterlands. The world is suddenly bleak but rules of good behavior must still be followed. Once relocated, Bruno is forbidden to explore, but does so anyway, as boys will, to his cost.

Told entirely from the point of view of a nine-year-old (although the book jacket copy insists this is not a book for nine-year-olds), the author maintains the atmosphere of incomprehension turning to some kind of knowledge, even though Bruno holds on to a portion of innocence until the end. In spite of the book jacket's claim, the novel certainly is not for readers much beyond the age of fourteen. Discussions of the evil inherent in the story are far from graphic and readers would need a surrounding context to understand what Bruno never fully does. The novel is quite moving and is a good introduction to the subject for any young reader, told from a different point of view from that usually chosen. Myrna Marler, Assoc. Prof. of English, BYU, Provo, UT

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.
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Author:Marler, Myrna
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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