Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One more before the New Years?

I wanted to finish off at least with 40 books finished (didn't manage to hit 50 like I wanted but ah well), so at the behest of my little sister, I picked up The Boy in the Striped Pajamas which I finished in a day while my family walked around La Jolla.

Dude.

I knew this book was about the Holocaust, but I wasn't really entirely sure what I was in for. It's a YA book and a pretty easy read, so I thought that it might be something touching and haunting, maybe similar to The Book Thief. Oi. Not so.

What I think strikes you first in this book is the fact that it conveys the tragedy of the Holocaust without ever needing to be explicit in its depiction of the horror. The story is told through the very naive eyes of a young, non-Jewish German boy who doesn't even understand what is going on. His fumbles and foibles as he makes friends with the Jewish boy on the other side of the camp are upsetting, ignorant, yet heartbreaking because you understand that this boy cannot possibly comprehend how the horrors the other boy are presenting to him can possibly be. Just as in a way, it is really difficult for us to imagine this actually occurred.

We get a lot of Holocaust stories in the Western world, and yet this one was so understated that it set it apart. It's such a quiet book that encapsulates a breaking of innocence. And then it ends quietly. Never hits the nail on the head. Never pushes morality down our throats. Never has us look at gas chambers or other horrors. It is what it is, starts quietly, ends quietly.

And so absolutely tragically in a way I did not at all expect it to.


Great, fast read. I want to see the movie, except I'm terrified because I know how this story ends and it breaks my heart.

2 drops:

moonrat said...

i was hoping to finish one more, too. but last night instead of reading i drank a martini and watched juno with my mom (again). now i have 300-something odd pages and it doesn't look great for me.

maybe i'll start reading more YA. my mom and i talked this morning about how she wants to update her reading curriculum for her 6th graders.

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