When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences
When Bruno returns home to find the family maid packing his things he worried that he has done something wrong but can’t thing what it could be. However when he goes to ask his mother about she is also packing her things and is told that the whole family are moving away for his fathers new job. Bruno is not in the least bit happy about this and makes it known. Even once they are moved he somehow finds the courage to tell his father exactly how he feels. Just like his mother though he told that he has to accept it.
The worse bit for Bruno is that here there is no-one else to play with. From his window he can see what he thinks is a camp full of boys, fathers, uncles and grandfathers all wearing stripped pajamas and he wants to go and play with them. After he classes one day Bruno goes out exploring and finds a boy sitting at the fence at the edge of the camp. Excited that he has discovered something he goes to talk to the boy and they soon become friends who visit the spot almost everyday to talk.
This goes on for about a year however his mother soon grows to hate the new home as much as Bruno once has and it is decided that they will move back to Berlin. Now having a friend Bruno no longer want to leaves but he goes back to see his friend and plans ones last adventure where he will finally crawl under the fence.
I expected this book to be a lot more emotional than it was. I went to visit Auschwitz last year and when I watched the movie after I was back home at the end I couldn’t help crying. The book however I think has a different feel to it. It is more about Bruno’s feelings. He learns some important lessons throughout the book. He started to see that the people who worked for them had their own lives and that just as he was learning to think for himself they deserved to have opinions too. He also developed a very true friendship by only being able to talk through a fence and when he let his friend down discovered that that wasn’t the type of person he wanted to be.
There have been quite a few reviews online that have complained that this book isn’t very realistic as he is 9 and should have a better understanding of what is going around him but I don’t think this is fair. 9 year olds aren’t that mature, particularly boys and I think his mother would have protected him from the horrors of what was going on around them. I think what is important to take away from this book is that there were a lot of innocent children in Germany also effected by the war and that friendship is a very powerful thing.