All The Broken Places: The Sequel to The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas
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This is the valuable part of the novel: in Paris, in hiding, Gretel and her mother, an unrepentant Nazi, are shaved at a kangaroo court; she is attracted to violent sex with men who hate her because she is German; in Australia, she meets the psychopath she loved as a child, her father’s assistant, and they discuss their complicity; she becomes pregnant by a Jewish man.
Of course, commercial publishing has always responded to reader trends, and these days can rush out similar novels as fast as high street fashion reproduces copycat catwalk looks. Boyne hopes today’s ambitious debut novels by young writers “can be retrieved once publishing becomes courageous once again”.
Gretel’s approach of complacent complicity serves her well until a ghost from her past brings a forced, guilty admission of how, even as a 12-year-old, she bought into the privilege and attention brought by her father’s high Nazi rank.
While over a third of English secondary schools use The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and its film adaptation in Holocaust lessons, Auschwitz Memorial replied that the book “should be avoided by anyone who studies or teaches about the Holocaust”. The tweet linked to a 2019 essay in which Hannah May Randall, the head of learning at Holocaust Centre North, highlights the novel’s historical inaccuracies and faults it for perpetuating “dangerous myths”. But this was really good. I just recently read Boyne's Water, and between that and All the Broken Places it is clear Boyne is keen to explore themes of culpability and complicity. How much are we to blame for the crimes of those close to us? Is one guilty by association? What is our responsibility as a bystander? And can we be forgiven? Gretel’s smart, engaging and uncompromising voice draws the reader in deftly – at the beginning she feels like a cosy crime heroine, or the deliciously spiky narrator found in Zoë Heller’s Notes on a Scandal. She spies on her wealthy new neighbours: a film producer, his wife and their small son, Henry. But it doesn’t stay cosy for long. Gretel and the film producer are both hiding very dark secrets indeed. The two circle each other warily, as Gretel considers how much she is prepared to do to save someone’s life without compromising her own safety.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.” MyHome.ie (Opens in new window) • Top 1000 • The Gloss (Opens in new window) • Recruit Ireland (Opens in new window) • Irish Times Training (Opens in new window)
So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community. You can’t prepare yourself for the magnitude and emotional impact of this powerful novel.”—John IrvingThe Telegraph values your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our Sequel to the hugely successful The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, All The Broken Places is a moving story about grief, guilt and complicity. 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. Don’t miss this one!