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

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In 1946, German born Gretel, and her mother escaped Poland for Paris, after a monumental event took place in their personal lives. Physically they may have fled their past, but psychologically, the shame and accompanying fear meant they would never really find peace. Kertész bemoaned the way Holocaust art devolves into the dutiful repetition of “certain words”. What are they? Boyne suggests a few contenders. How many times does All the Broken Places refer to the “truth”? Forty-two. Guilt? Thirty-six. Past? Thirty-four. Trauma, horror, and monster get ten uses each. The dialogue is leaden and expository: “My daddy’s not a monster”; “It doesn’t matter any more. It’s all in the past.” The narration is bloated and risible: “He was gone. Louis was gone. Millions were gone”; “I had witnessed too much suffering in my life and done nothing to help. I had to intervene.” John Boyne is one of my favourite authors but strangely enough the I was one of the very few people who wasn’t completely blown away by his novel ‘The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas’. I did enjoy it but not as much as the wonderful ‘The Hearts invisible Furies’ or ‘Ladder to the Sky’ which were both masterpieces. ‘All the Broken Places’ is a sequel to ‘The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas’ and I was completely absorbed from the very start. Gretel is a wonderfully complex character, and John Boyne does an incredible job of challenging us to like or dislike Gretel. She is a woman who can show incredible generosity yet show dislikeable traits. Gretel rises to action driven by concern yet can deliver harsh reactions. The remarkable aspect of Gretel’s story is deciding how culpable she was at fifteen to the inhumane compassionless environment of Auschwitz and the gnawing guilt that has been her constant companion for eighty years. “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.” If she was innocent, why was she living under an assumed name? Why had she kept her past hidden from everyone, including her son? Boyne says he never asked for his book to be used in schools. It would be “foolish”, he says, to base historical teaching of the Holocaust solely on his book.

All the Broken Places is a sequel to Boyne's 2006 book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and follows the now 91-year-old older sister of Bruno from that book, Gretel. Gretel has lived in London for decades, never speaking of her childhood in Nazi Germany as the daughter of a concentration camp commandant. Her life is upended when a new family moves in next door whose circumstances force her to confront her own past. [1] Plot [ edit ] Boyne, you took a chance delving into this genre, but successfully left an impression of Greta and a reminder of all the victims who suffered. My heart now breaks in many places. In All the Broken Places we meet Gretel again. The book is told in two timelines, one after Gretel and her mother have escaped after the war and gone undercover so as avoid possible arrest for war crimes, and the other of Gretel in her nineties living in comfort in London but still hiding under another name and still full of guilt. I was privileged ton read an advance copy of this novel, the sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas . Gretel Fernsby has led a turbulent life. She is ninety-one and was at the age of twelve raised in a place she does no mention. It was a place of death and destruction trying to eradicate a race by a so called master plan. She is the daughter of the head of this place and is exposed to its horrors, but chooses to turn a blind eye. She is only twelve and what can a twelve year old do? After the death of someone close to her and eventually she and mother's escape to Paris for a time, Gretel, assumes a number of identities, always secretive, never allowing anyone except eventually her husband to know the terrible secret she carries.Gretel insists to Kurt that she doesn’t wish the Allies had lost the war, despite the personal advantages she would have gained. Kurt doesn’t believe her: “You’re lying. . . . You are. I can see it in your face. You need to tell yourself that you wouldn’t so you can feel a sense of moral superiority, but I don’t believe you for even a moment” (253). Do you believe Gretel? Later, when Alex Darcy-Witt suggests that Gretel wishes Germany had won the war, she responds, “No one wins a war” (355). Why do you think she answers differently this time? This is a fiction story and I am always aware when reading historical fiction stories that I may not get an extensive or satisfying portrayal of events in the past but that is fine as I have read a vast amount of non fiction books on the War and that is where I get my facts and information from.

i love so many of JBs other books and they will always hold a very dear place in my heart. but, when it comes to this particular situation/story, JB is showing his true colours as a person and im not sure i personally like the look. It’s very much a story about grief and guilt. About trauma, and attempting to escape the past. About running, but never being able to hide. But it's also a compassionate book, and Gretel is a deeply flawed but likeable character and we can see how she has been shaped by events. I still think ‘Boy/Pyjamas’ is a good story, as long as one reads it as exactly that, a story of fiction.An old woman is seen at key moments in a lifelong struggle to deal with the guilt-laden secrets of her youth.

But criticising the book’s intention as a moral fable for taking artistic liberties with Auschwitz, as some have done, is, he says, “like someone studying the Russian revolution criticising Animal Farm because pigs can’t talk”. Boyne has defended The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by pointing to its subtitle, “A Fable”, and his efforts to educate children that the book is a novel. Fiction should not bear the burden of education, he argues. Nonetheless, a survey by the London Jewish Cultural Centre found that 75 per cent of respondents thought that it had been based on a true story. I find John Boyne to be a superb storyteller, asking thought provoking questions of the reader, and creating a difficult but likeable character who has such a dubious past. Reading a novel is an act of empathy and though I found myself struggling with some parts of Gretel's story, I never found her less than human. It takes great talent to pull that off. All the Broken Places Summary As overall awareness of the Holocaust has decreased among young people especially, Boyne’s novel has become a casualty of its own success. Holocaust scholars in the United Kingdom and United States have decried the book, with historian David Cesarani calling it “a travesty of facts” and “a distortion of history,” and the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre in London publishing a long takedown of the book’s inaccuracies and “stereotypes.”Boyne writes a very complex character in Gretel. Like all humans, she has made huge mistakes, has many regrets. But she’s been kind, thoughtful, and good as well. She’s ashamed and has spent her whole life denying that she had any responsibility in her father’s life work, even when she knew it was wrong. If the point is that this could happen to anyone, it is very obliquely made. There are serious objections to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. A child like Bruno would know what Nazism is, and would be schooled to hate Jews. A child like Shmuel would not be at liberty to walk the fence, and his anger is so muted it is nonexistent. He is not yet dead, and already he is silenced. And what is this novel? He sees it as a formulaic university novel of “self-involved students who think they are the first people in the world ever to have sex” and in which the authors, “terrified of offending anyone make sure they hit, in each book, all the right things: gay people, trans people, people of colour”. Among my most popular books are The Heart’s Invisible Furies, A Ladder to the Sky and My Brother’s Name is Jessica. When Gretel and Kurt meet in Australia and talk about their lives since the war, Kurt says, “I don’t remember making any conscious decisions about my life. It was all laid out for me so young” (250). What do you think of that statement? When do young people gain a responsibility for their own lives?

Boyne does a deep dive into this deeply flawed character. How one can never escape the past; How events shape who we are; How we remain broken until we can reconcile the past with the present; how we can still change who we are from who we were. Even decades later. John Boyne studied English literature at Trinity College Dublin and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. He is now the author of 21 books. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill At the behest of his publisher, Boyne has included an author’s note with “All The Broken Places” alluding to criticisms of “Striped Pajamas.” “Writing about the Holocaust is a fraught business and any novelist approaching it takes on an enormous burden of responsibility,” he tells the reader. “The story of every person who died in the Holocaust is one that is worth telling. I believe that Gretel’s story is also worth telling.” With the rise in antisemitism, such as it is in this country, and that so often manifests through trivialization, distortion and denial of the Holocaust, this book could potentially do more harm than good,” Centre for Holocaust Education researcher Ruth-Anne Lenga concluded at the end of her 2016 study. Many Germans struggle to reflect on how much their relatives benefited from remaining silent in the Nazi era,” she has told me.There are few functioning families within the novel: everyone is affected by the reach of war, its tendrils stretching across the planet and through time. Warped parent/child relationships range from the apparently trivial (Gretel’s greedy son wants her to sell her luxurious flat) to the truly monstrous. Gretel’s mother, we learn, remained a true believer in nazism until the end. In the present-day plot strand, the film producer’s abuse of his family threatens to erupt into tragedy. Henry is a ghost-like figure, reminding Gretel both of her dead brother and of her failures as a mother. This novel, this exceptional, layered and compelling story, is built on modern history and all of us people who live it. The protagonist, the elderly, forthright and mysterious Mrs. Fernsby, is more than memorable and every one of Boyne's characters, and every scene, dark or light, is limned in truth and insight. This book moves like a freight train, with force and consequence for the reader." - Amy Bloom, New York Times bestselling author of In Love Tapping into the issue of Nazi perpetrator families and their suffering in the post-war years is likely to be as controversial as the debate over The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has been.

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