AUTHOR- JOHN BOYNE
PUBLISHED IN- 2006
You know that a book is going to hit you hard when there’s a disclaimer in the front saying, “Not suitable for young readers”. When I read the first page, it gave a vibe similar to that of Harry Potter, like there’s a kid and you are going to read about his struggles. But then I would remember the disclaimer which is the exact opposite of the Harry Potter and it would give me chills.
Frankly, I took up this book because it looked like an easy read and I needed something light after Gone with the wind. Boy, was I in for a surprise?
Basically, the story is about two nine year olds, Bruno and Shmuel; Bruno being the son of a Nazi officer and the other one, a Jew living in a death camp. As you see friendship growing between the two of them, you wonder how pure and innocent childhood is. How do you teach children that they are supposed to be enemies? You can’t.
I did cheat a bit and found out ahead of finishing the book that Shmuel dies. It was predictable. Yes, ofcourse, he was living in a death camp afterall. So I had presumed that Bruno becomes disheartened by losing his only best friend and grows up to avenge his own father. Silly me. What happened for real was even more terrifying. In the last part, Bruno crosses the fence which had kept them seperate and gets in the camp. Both of them die hand in hand, in the gas chamber. Truly, the last chapter is the best one and it delivers a blow that you didn’t expect.
As per my ritual, I drove into the movie as soon as I completed the book. That was a huge mistake because I can still feel my broken heart. The movie was beautiful and it was the last scene of the movie that made it all so real. In the book, Bruno’s family doesn’t know how he went missing until many weeks later but in the movie, they reach the gas chamber in the exact moment when everyone inside it is dead. You are torn between feeling sad for the mother or feeling rightful for the father. As the movie ends on the scene focusing on the closed door of the gas chamber, it sends a chill down the spine. It is real. It happened somewhere at some time. People died. Are we really past all that now? Are we any better now than we were 80 years ago?
I would have loved to talk about the details of the characters but I am afraid my heart is too broken to think about anything else other than their death.