The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Book Response

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Hi there! Over the summer, I was tasked with reading a nonfiction and fiction book, and to choose one of the many that I did read to write about. This post will be a little bit different than my normal book reviews, as during this I will be covering topics that include themes and Author’s Craft. While I will not be weighing the goods and the bads of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, I would certainly recommend this book.


The fiction book I chose to read this summer was The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas takes place during World War 2, and follows a young boy named Bruno who travels away from his home so that his father could continue his high-ranking job in the Nazi Party. At his new home, Bruno finds something very interesting outside of his bedroom window- a tall, barbed wire fence that contained thousands of people who all seemed to be wearing the same outfit, a pair of striped pajamas.

Throughout reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I came across several themes that I believed were not only important inside of the story, but also life lessons that can be used in the real world as well. The first theme centers around equality, and how no matter where a person came from, what religion they believe in, or what they look like, everyone should be treated with equal respect. In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the Nazi party decided to do just the opposite. The Nazis decided that Jewish people were a danger to the German country, and that anyone who did not have German blood should be punished. Bruno discovered this when he met a new friend, Shmuel, who lived on the other side of the fence. Bruno learned about how Shmuel, among thousands, were harshly treated by soldiers, were starved, and were often taken away- never to be seen again. While Bruno did not understand the full concept of what was happening, he felt great sympathy for Shmuel, and often brought him leftovers from his own hearty lunch. Bruno even went to the extent of disguising himself with his own pair of striped pajamas to spend the day with Shmuel, even at Auschwitz. That same day, however, Bruno truly got to understand and experience what the Jewish people really felt like, as he and Shmuel were ushered into a death chamber that would end both of their lives.

During Bruno’s time on the opposite side of the fence, the fact that, during World War 2, not everyone was treated with equal respect, rang clear. In part, the theme became clear through the author’s use of techniques. Two author’s craft techniques really stood out to me: irony and the use of characterization. One part of the irony that I found was that while Bruno’s father wanted to keep Bruno safe, he was so willing to end the lives of thousands of Jewish people. Just because Bruno and Shmuel were standing on different sides of a fence, Shmuel was treated as if he was the enemy, and Bruno’s father was the hero for removing Jewish people from German territory. The author’s characterization of Shmuel gave me a clear idea of how Shmuel felt about these recent events, and how he lost his father. Shmuel explained how jews were treated just because they didn’t have german blood, how just because they were Jews, they deserved to be starved and put to death. This devastated me, but also enunciated the idea that everyone should be treated with equal respect.

Another theme that I found in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas focused around the importance of friendship, and how with the close bond of a friend you can get through any tough times. At the beginning of the story, Bruno was very unhappy about moving away from his good friends and family. But as he began to visit Shmuel at the fence, he began to like the new home, now that he had a new best friend, and why he dreaded going back home to his old home. The day before he would leave, though, the theme really presented itself. After entering the other side of the fence and being encountered by soldiers, Bruno and Shmuel entered the death chamber. While neither knew that they would be facing their death, Bruno was conscious that he was holding Shmuel’s hand, and that no matter what happened, everything would one day be okay. Had they lived through the event, both would have been best friends for the rest of their lives.

The main piece of author’s craft that the author used to present this theme were again characterization and the use of minor foreshadowing. The characterization of the way Bruno and Shmuel felt about their relationship between each other, and how nothing could ever break them apart, no matter what happened. This was extremely clear when, out of the character of Bruno, he grabbed hold of Shmuel’s hand. Even though neither Bruno nor Shmuel survived Auschwitz, the author used foreshadowing to show that the close ties Bruno had with Shmuel would help Shmuel out of the horrific situation that he was in, and how he would one day take Shmuel back to his home in Berlin and be able to really interact with Shmuel for the first time. At one point in life, through the support of each other, everything would have been alright.

I really enjoyed reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and I loved how the author’s techniques and author’s craft, along with the use of important themes were able to positively contribute to the essence of the overall story.


Thanks for reading! My nonfiction response to The Boys in the Boat will be releasing soon.

Gabe

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Book Review

“There will soon be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

-Albus Dumbledore

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend so far. Today, I will be reviewing the fourth book in the Harry Potter series- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The story begins not at the usual Durseley house, but at the house of character we recently learned about: The Riddle House.

Many years ago, the entire family living in the house were murdered. At first, the village blamed the caretaker of the house, until the police released a statement that said there was no proof of poisoning or physical contact. It was as if the family died of natural cause- except a whole family couldn’t die of natural causes in one night. Many years later, the same Frank Bryce sat in his house across from the now empty Riddle’s. He was quick to notice that a light was on in the upstairs window across the street, and went over to investigate. When he climbed the flight of stairs, he heard to voices conversing- one addressed as Wormtail (so Pettigrew really wasn’t innocent!) and the other as Lord Voldemort. Frank understood that Voldemort wanted to find Harry Potter. But for some reason, Voldemort had to wait for the Quidditch World Cup to be over.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Book Review

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.

-Albus Dumbledore

Another great quote by the magnificent Albus Dumbledore. That’s another thing I loved about the Harry Potter series. When Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban begins, we find Harry back inside the Durseley house. Harry is lying beneath his bed covers, trying to do his summer homework. He wasn’t allowed to do anything related to magic at the Durseley house, especially after receiving a catastrophic phone call from Ron early in the summer. When Harry retired for the night, he realized that he had already been 13 for an hour- only to be immediately greeted by 3 owls- one from Ron, his own Hedwig, and one he didn’t recognize.

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Book Review

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

-Albus Dumbledore

Welcome to the second year in Harry’s wonderous world. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K Rowling is the second book in the Harry Potter series. I would recommend you read Harry Potter and the Sorcerors Stone before the Chamber of Secrets, as the first book provides necessary background information about the world of Harry Potter.

We begin the second story once again at the Durseley house, where Vernon is preparing the family for a visit by a couple from a hardware company- that could offer him the deal of a lifetime. Harry’s job, of course, is to remain in his room pretending he doesn’t exist. What could go wrong?

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Book Review

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies- but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

-Albus Dumbledore

Good morning! Today marks the start of the two-week Harry Potter book review marathon. I’ve challenged myself to publish 7 book reviews over the course of 14 days, so I must confess- this book review was written just under a month before it was published. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Harry Potter has been my favorite book series of all time- and ever since I finished the series I have been re-reading each book, watching every movie, and hunting for Harry Potter merchandise. That says something.

You may find some of these surprising, but my top three favorite characters (besides Harry, Ron, and Hermione) are Professor Dumbledore, Professor Mcgonagall, and Draco Malfoy. Why Malfoy? Every character in Harry Potter was so well-developed and each had very intricate personalities. These characters are what made the Harry Potter series so great- along with many other things, of course- and particularly Malfoy, Dumbledore, and Mcgonagall, along with the main trio of characters had very strong personalities and were portrayed excellently throughout the series.

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The Iron Trial Book Review

“Fire wants to burn, water wants to flow, air wants to rise, earth wants to bind, and chaos wants to devour.”

Hi there! By now I am realizing how fast the summer is going- it is already Tuesday again! For this week, I wanted to review a book that I had just finished reading. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare was recommended to me by a teacher- and I must say that I can’t wait to read the sequel.

I loved how The Iron Trial had me torn between who to believe and support in the story- but I’ll explain that a bit later.

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Code Orange Book Review

“Whether I live or die, whether I’m scarred or not, that stuff doesn’t matter… the virus would exist.”

Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, so I have chosen to review another of my favorite books from school this year: Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney. I hadn’t yet read any books from Caroline B. Cooney before reading Code Orange, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. After finishing the book, I would love to read many of the other novels written by this author. I must say, I really enjoyed reading this book for pleasure as the book was really suspenseful, and kept me hooked in; it was written extremely well.

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Book Review

“I regret that it takes a life to learn how to live.”

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a novel written by Jonathan Safran Foer. The book centers around the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. I just recently finished reading this book as part of a book club during 7th grade. I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed with the way the book was written and truly enjoyed reading this book. At the start of the story, we are introduced to the main character, Oskar Schell, who also narrates the story. On the first page, Oskar begins by inventing in his mind: a birdseed shirt, a teakettle that could whistle songs, and small microphones that played everyone’s heartbeat to the world around them. I loved how the author portrayed Oskar’s personality this way. We also find out that his dad died in the 9/11 attacks, as Oskar relays the phone messages his dad had sent just before he died. In the second chapter, the story is told by a different person, and this time through a letter dated back to 1963. We are introduced to a man who ‘lost his words’, and therefore had to use a notebook to communicate everyday phrases. This man later meets a woman, who, coincidentally, has ‘crummy eyes’. After a staggered conversation, the  women later asks the man to marry him.

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Book Review- Son of Neptune

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Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Rating: 5 Stars

Reason: I absolutely loved this book. I enjoyed hearing from a new set of characters, and even at a new camp. It was really intense, but gets you hooked right away.

Overall Description: Percy. Along with Jason, they both have their memory stolen and are transported to the opposite camp. For Percy, that’s camp Jupiter. He starts out by being chased by a few gorgons, and then carrying an old goddess across the Tibet. Could things be any wierder? Percy then meets Frank and Hazel, and the camp praetor, Reyna. He has no memory, except for one name: Annabeth. He instantly befriends Frank and Hazel, and before long learn about the Prophecy of the Seven, where seven demigods will unite from both camps (Half-blood and Jupiter)  At night, Percy is assigned to Cohort 5 and is allowed to stay in camp. Before too long, these demigods are sent on a quest to defeat an Alaskan giant. Meanwhile, Gaea has plans to destroy both camps. She sends thousands of monsters to conquer Camp Jupiter. After Percy, Frank, and Hazel defeat the giant and are able to return home, they must fight off the monsters and help Camp Jupiter survive. In The Son of Neptune, Frank, Hazel, and Percy meet for the first time. As the book goes on, they go on a large quest, meet gods and goddesses, get claimed by their godly parents, and keep Camp Jupiter secure. And during an intense series of events, Frank will see his grandmother one last time and inherent the family gift. Will the demigods be able to save the camp, with a new great prophecy being formed?

Recommendation: Absolutely!

Stay tuned for a book review on the third book in the series, The Mark of Athena.

Thanks for reading!

Gabe

Book Review- The Lost Hero

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The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Rating: 5 Stars

Reason: This was another recommendation from a friend. I really enjoyed, especially how it is basically a sequel series of Percy Jackson. That said- read the Percy Jackson series before you read the Heroes of Olympus.

Overall Description: Jason. That’s all he remembers. Where is he anyway? Some place called “Wilderness School”? Ha. Like he belongs here. Like he actually has a girlfriend named Piper and a friend named Leo. Or does he? Jason wakes on a bus holding hands with some girl he’d never seen before. He has no memory. And now they are on their way to the Grand Canyon. When they arrive, they head towards the skywalk thousand of feet in the air- with a glass floor. All of a sudden, the wind picks up and he soon finds him self battling storm spirits with his coin/sword, and with Coach Hedge… who has hooves for feet? The three half-bloods: Leo, Piper, and Jason are taken to a place called Camp Half Blood. There they are claimed by gods and goddesses who were their “missing” parents. Then the oracle, Rachel Dare, speaks of another Great Prophecy. All three of the new half-bloods will start on the quest. When they set out, they must battle several obstacles. First they start with the snow god, and his daughter Khione. After convincing them they come in peace, they set out to face the wind god- Aeolus. He is not so easy to get through, but his helpful assistant helps them leave safely even with an order to kill them. Even worse, they find out that Piper’s dad, the famous Piper Mclean, is in grave danger. They must face cyclops’, huge giants, and even more monsters before they reach their final destination. After meeting up with the Hunters, Jason discovers a deep secret. He and Thalia are siblings. And with the Hunters’ help, will they be able to set Hera free and prevent Porphyrian from rising from the earth?

Recommendation: Yes, I would recommend this book.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for a book review on Son of Neptune!

-Gabe