Warning: May contain spoilers.
I’ve always had an interest in the World Wars, in the sense that I enjoy hearing stories and appreciate the trauma these people experienced to ensure I get to live the life I live, not in the sense that I enjoy the fact they happened – obviously. But this book made me appreciate the struggles people faced even more, especially because I never thought about the children experiencing the tragedies war brings.
Told from the eyes of a 9-year-old Bruno, the son of a Nazi Commandment, it’s hard to not want to see the world through his obvious innocent and naivety.
The story starts with Bruno and his family being uprooted from his great life and beautiful home in Berlin after Hitler decides his father should run a concentration camp in Poland. You watch as he struggles with the move, the loss of his friends and the boredom of being at home all the time while in the middle of one the world’s greatest evil times, without any other worry in the world than the fact he longs for a friend in his new home. Which of course leads him to do what any child would do, and go out to search for one.
After meeting his new friend on the other side of the fence, all Bruno longs for is to go over there and play with him and all the other young boys over there. In fact, he even claims he’s jealous of his new Polish friend, Schmel, and wishes he knew how horrible it was in his safe luxurious home because of all the soldiers walking in and out of it all the time – a simple but strong representation of how young Germans didn’t see anything wrong with what was happened to other people, but genuinely believed, as Bruno did, that they were ‘superior’.
I’m not going to say anything about the ending other than the fact you absolutely have to read it for yourself. It will open your eyes and break your heart all at the same time.
Let me know if you’ve ever read this book and what you thought!