The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of my favorite books ever written. It was published in 2006, by John Boyne, and is set during World War II, at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland. It is narrated by Bruno, the 9-year-old son of a Nazi Commandant. Bruno’s innocent perspective makes the novel absolutely gut-wrenching, as he has no idea what exactly is happening beyond the fence surrounding Auschwitz.

Bruno’s father has a high station in the Nazi hierarchy, and he is on very close terms with Fuhrer Hitler. In fact, Hitler has Bruno’s father move out of Berlin and to Poland so he can oversee tings at Auschwitz, much to Bruno’s dismay. The new house at Auschwitz is old and gloomy, not at all like his previous home in Berlin. With nothing to do except explore, Bruno makes a number of startling discoveries that, in turn, lead to a massive turn of events.

Overall, this book is a roller-coaster of emotions. Readers will laugh at Bruno’s adorable perceptions of things that we understand with ease, cry at the mistakes he makes because he doesn’t know any better. John Boyne expertly wraps the reader up in the plot, writing complex, dynamic characters that the reader can sympathize with. This book is just an amazing read, and if you’re looking for a novel that will enrich and educate as well as entertain you, your search has met its end.

-Arushi S. 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Book Review: The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom

hiding_placeThe book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom is a story about surviving the Holocaust. Corrie was the daughter of a watch storekeeper, her father, with her sister, Betsie ten Boom in Holland. The ten Booms lived above their shop. Their lives changed when they accepted the risk of hiding Jews after Germany took over their home country. Corrie was assisted with the concealment of the Jews from a contractor who built them a secret. The room was located in Corrie’s bedroom, and the contractor informed that it will be the last place they will look. He also installed an alarm.

While resting in her bed with the flu, Corrie heard the alarm go off. After, the police entered and took Corrie, Betsie, and their father to concentration camp. The authority found out that they were keeping Jews in their home. Now Corrie and her family have to go through the struggle and hardships while trying to live at the camp. All Corrie has is her sister, father, and her faith in Jesus.

I really enjoyed this book because it described how live was during the Holocaust. The book was very descriptive. I was highly interested in this story and how the author explained her experience from entering and to being released from the concentration camp. I would recommend this to ages 12 and up. I hope you read this book.

-Samantha S., 8th grade

Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

unbrokenUnbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a fascinating biography/novel that tells the story of young boy named Louie Zamperini who begins life as somewhat of a troublemaker; stealing and fighting. But, despite these difficulties, he becomes a running sensation. Louie works his way to four minute miles, and then is given the opportunity to run in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where even Hitler himself takes notice.

But Louie’s athletic endeavors take a detour as he is sent off to fight in WWII as part of a fighter plane’s crew. Louie’s plane crashes, and Louie survives on the open ocean for several weeks living off practically nothing until he is captured by the Japanese and put into a POW camp. 

Unbroken tells the horror stories of life for Louie and other American soldiers inside Japanese camps as they are tortured and starved to death. The POW camp passages portray humans who  have no regard for other human life. Louie watches his friends and countrymen become sick and die. In turn, he becomes sick and waits for death himself. When Louie is transferred to another prison camp, his experience becomes even worse. He meets Matsuhiro Watanabe, a prison guard who takes extreme delight in beating prisoners, and singles Louie out constantly. When the Allies finally win the war, Louie is a changed man. He has become affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, and cannot be around anything that reminds him of the war or the POW camps. He soon develops drinking and marital problems.

Louie believes he can end his problems by killing Matsuhiro, who has fled after the war. However, events take a suprise turn.

This novel was sad and horrifying. Louie’s story is an amazing one of hope, sorrow, survival and redemption, and Ms. Hillenbrand is able to thoroughly express these thoughts and feelings on paper.

-Will R., 10th grade