From the author of the globally bestselling, multi-million-copy classic, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, comes its astonishing and powerful sequel.
Ninety-one-year-old Gretel Fernsby has lived in the same mansion block in London for decades. She leads a comfortable, quiet life, despite her dark and disturbing past. She doesn’t talk about her escape from Germany over seventy years before. She doesn’t talk about the post-war years in France with her mother. Most of all, she doesn’t talk about her father, the commandant of one of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps.
Then, a young family moves into the apartment below her. 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. One night, she witnesses a violent argument between Henry’s mother and his domineering father, one that threatens Gretel’s hard-won, self-contained existence.
Gretel is faced with a chance to expiate her guilt, grief and remorse and act to save a young boy – for the second time in her life. But to do so, she will be forced to reveal her true identity to the world. Will she make a different choice this time, whatever the cost to herself?
All the Broken Places is a devastating, beautiful story about a woman who must confront the sins of her past and a present in which it is never too late for bravery.
All The Broken Places: The Sequel to The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas
by John Boyne
I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas back in April 2015 and it’s a book I have never forgotten. It is one of the most emotional books I have ever read. If you have never read it, you really should consider adding it to your list.
I was intrigued to read All The Broken Places to say the least.
This sequel tells Gretel’s story.
Gretel is 91 years old and has lived in her London apartment for over sixty years. She keeps herself to herself. However, she hasn’t always led such a quiet life. She has a dark past and painful secrets.
She is the daughter of a commandant of a Nazi concentration camp.
She would prefer no-one ever found that out. Especially now she has more than just herself to consider.
She has never got past the guilt she feels regarding her father’s crimes. She was just a child at the time. Should she share responsibility for his actions?
At 91 she is confident now that she will take the secrets of her past to her grave.
That is until a young family move in to the flat below hers and turn her quiet world upside down.
I really enjoyed how Gretel walks us through her story. Switching between the present day and earlier years of her life. Unravelling the tale chapter by chapter. Keeping me glued to my Kindle. I can’t say I found her to be a likeable character or a particularly unlikable one. She is somewhat standoffish but as we get to know her it’s easier to understand why. She is undoubtably fascinating.
This is such a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking story. A powerful tale of living a life weighed down by grief and guilt. So beautifully written I can’t imagine anyone not finding it completely compelling.
I could never have imagined the way things would turn out! The ending gave me goosebumps.
Another one of John Boyne’s books I am sure will stay with me for many years to come.
I highly recommend!
**Many thanks to the author and publisher for my review copy via NetGalley**
(Out on 15th September 2022)