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All The Broken Places: The Sequel to The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

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Gretel said a lot of things like “We’re guilty too”, and her mother said a lot of things like, “Your father’s crimes! he also adamantly warned us away from JBs well-known book ‘the boy in the striped pajamas,’ as it spreads some harmful inaccuracies. Some 16 years ago, his novel aimed at younger readers, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, helped introduce a new generation to the Nazi machinery of death. In the hospital, Edgar informs her about David’s past; how he was born in Prague and escaped with his grandparents after the occupation, and that parents and sister were delayed and disappeared, ultimately being murdered in Treblinka extermination camp.

In spite of herself, Gretel can't help but begin a friendship with the little boy, Henry, though his presence brings back memories she would rather forget. As she tries to escape the chaos of the end of the second world war, she grapples with her memories of Auschwitz, her parents and her own part in her brother’s death. Gretel Fernsby is in her nineties, but she’s bright as a button and sharp as a knife - she has to be, because Gretel has a secret, a secret that she’s carried with her for most of her life, one she’s determined to keep to herself. Her shame and guilt that has followed her as her father was a nazi commandment of one of the internment camps. The author has also been known to exacerbate the issue by sparring with his critics, even when they are respected institutions.Yet Holocaust scholars have warned against it, panning it as inaccurate and trafficking in dangerous stereotypes about Jewish weakness. Later, when Alex Darcy-Witt suggests that Gretel wishes Germany had won the war, she responds, “No one wins a war” (355). Leading the way is Alexandra Senfft – a close friend of this reporter’s – whose grandfather Hanns Ludin was Nazi governor in occupied Slovakia. If every man is guilty of all the good he did not do, as Voltaire suggested, then I have spent a lifetime convincing myself that I am innocent of all the bad. It seems to me that they are usually not needed and are just an author's way of capitalizing on the success of their most popular work, or else catering to demanding fans.

Readers and Book Groups may be interested in this discussion guide about ALL THE BROKEN PLACES, which can help to shape conversation about the novel.Alex is abusive and very controlling of his wife Madelyn and his 9-year-old son Henry; seeing them as his property. Setting aside his total inability to render human experience as anything other than a Hallmark card, he’s fundamentally wrong: the purpose of Holocaust education should not be to recognise the good in bad people, but to recognise the bad inside good people. As in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Boyne underestimates the family’s awareness of the Holocaust, lending his German characters an exaggerated naivety, or implausible deniability.

As to this first goal, at least, it is a consummate failure, a wildly simplified narrative that misrepresents the extent of Nazi ideology. Needless to say, that with John Boyne at the helm, we’re treated to a storyline full of insight, from the ugliness of life through to the purity of love.All The Broken Places is a compelling read dealing with culpability, responsibility and Gretel’s life-long guilt, but the novel is derailed by Boyne’s evasive, over-the-top ending.

A great-grandson of Jews who fled Vienna when the Nazis arrived, Max told JTA he’d initially read the book “years before I was capable of absorbing testimony,” and that it inspired him to seek out actual survivor testimonies and to begin composing the opera at the age of 19. Gretel watches the troubling relationship between vulnerable, nine-year-old Henry – the same age as her brother Bruno when he died – and his aggressive father Alex Darcy-Witt. On a night out with their lovers, Gretel and her mother face furious neighbours who’ve lost loved ones in the war.So far, it has been hailed as “ a powerful novel about secrets and atonement after Auschwitz” in the Guardian and lauded in hundreds of positive reviews on GoodReads. At the pub where Kate, Gretel spots Lieutenant Kurt Kohler, a former German soldier who served under her father. How at 12 years of age, she and her mother escaped to Paris, with new identities, afraid they would be discovered for their own complicity in war crimes. If the moral of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamaswas “don’t murder Jewish little boys lest your non-Jewish one be killed”, that of Broken Places is “if you were complicit in the murder of Jewish little boys, you may be absolved if you later prevent the murder of at least one non-Jewish little boy”.

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