Review: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

When young Pierrot is orphaned, he is sent from his home in Paris to live with his aunt Beatrix in Germany where she is housekeeper to Adolf Hitler at his mountain home. Hitler quickly takes a shine to the young boy in spite of his aversions to young children and becomes Pierrot’s mentor. Of course, this is World War II era and young German boys must find their place in the Fatherland. But with all that Pierrot learns and grows into, will he know what’s right or will his teachings only suck him further into Hitler’s vision of the world?

To be quite honest, I thought The Boy at the Top of the Mountain was a great book. The Hitler Youth is a topic that modern society rarely touches on and I’m glad that Boyne was able to talk about it in such a way that everyone can understand. It’s scary to think that Hitler could take children as young as seven (the age of Pierrot at the start of the book) and brainwash them to become radical fanatics and have so much blind hate for people who are different from them. Children are so impressionable that it’s easy to tell them what to think and how to act. Hitler clearly knew this well and used it to his advantage.

I found this book to be a much more satisfying read than the Boy With the Striped Pajamas because I found this one to be much more in tune with what actually happened with German boys (and girls) at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Striped Pajamas and what Boyne was trying to get across, but it didn’t seem like a man in his father’s position would allow such a thing to happen or even let his son go astray into the concentration camp. I could be wrong , though, maybe it did happen for all I know.

Overall Impression: Disturbing and realistic. Haunting and immersed. Not quite sure if Hitler took in young boys at his private home, but general trueness to German children at the time.
Rating: 4/5

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