All The Broken Places: The Sequel to The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas
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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
Max’s passion for “Striped Pajamas” inspired at least one Holocaust group to change its mind about its educational merits. The Holocaust Educational Trust, a London-based group that advocates British educators on how to teach the Holocaust, had as recently as 2020 declared that “ we advise against using” the book in the classroom. Exceptional, layered and compelling…This book moves like a freight train, with force and consequence for the reader.”
At the pub where Kate, Gretel spots Lieutenant Kurt Kohler, a former German soldier who served under her father. She starts observing him, discovering his new life as a banker in Australia. One day, Gretel kidnaps his son Hugo, planning a murder-suicide but eventually agreeing to meet Kurt. They discuss her anger and his support for the Nazi regime, with Kurt pointing out that Gretel is angry with him as a means of escaping from her own guilt. You may also opt to downgrade to Standard Digital, a robust journalistic offering that fulfils many user’s needs. Compare Standard and Premium Digital here. Revisiting this fictional wartime family lures readers into tangled webs of inter-generational trauma which remain even today. Family silence
For the first decade of his book’s release, Boyne would frequently receive invites to speak at Jewish community centers and Holocaust museums. He met with survivors who shared their stories with him. 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? 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.
This prompted the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum to warn that the book “should be avoided by anyone who studies or teaches the history of the Holocaust”. A powerful novel about secrets and atonement after Auschwitz… All the Broken Places is a defence of literature's need to shine a light on the darkest aspects of human nature; and it does so with a novelist's skill, precision and power." - The Guardian (UK)