If you haven't already guessed, John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a young adult novel about the Holocaust. By focusing on Bruno's innocent and puzzled view of his father's job, Boyne offers a previously unseen perspective on the everyday Germans who took part in the Nazis' ultimate solution. While written with teens in mind, this is certainly a book worthy of adult readers. Already a bestseller in the . and Australia, the novel is well written, compelling and ultimately shocking. It should be noted, however, that the book has garnered criticism from some who argue that the boy's viewpoint trivializes this tragic era. Bruno is definitely naive by today's standards, but this novel isn't set in 2006—it takes place in 1943, when a sheltered child might well have been unaware of Auschwitz and the fate of the Jews who were sent there. Ultimately, it is up to the individual reader to judge whether Boyne's unique approach to the Holocaust adds to the understanding of this troubling time in human history.
Bruno's confusion surrounding the situation at "Out With" is an example of Boyne's technique of defamiliarization. Through the voice of a limited, third-person narrator, Boyne leads the reader to Auschwitz and introduces the terrible things taking place there as if the reader has no prior knowledge on the topic. This allows the reader to avoid immediately categorizing the victims of the Holocaust as "Others," fundamentally different and unknowable. Rather, the reader gains the perspective of Bruno's childlike innocence.