John Boyne Best Books 📚

John Boyne is an Irish author who has written novels for children, young adults, and adults. His books often include elements of historical fiction, taking place in locations like France and Germany during World War I and II. 

John Boyne

Irish Novelist

Most of his novels contend with themes like identity, change, family, and belonging. Many of his narrators are quite young, nine and ten years old, providing readers with unique perspectives on the historically important times in which they are living. So far, he’s written 13 novels for adults and 6 for younger readers. He’s also published a collection of short stories. 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Digital Art
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Digital Art

This is, without a doubt, Boyne’s best-known and commonly read novel. The story of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas follows a young boy, Bruno, who, along with his sister Gretel, and his mother and father, moves to a home outside of Auschwitz. There, his father is working as the new commandant. Bruno has no understanding of the situation they’re in or what the work his father is doing is really about. He makes friends with a Jewish boy on the other side of the fence with whom he shares his troubles and elevates some of his loneliness. 

All the Broken Places

All the Broken Places by John Boyne focuses on Gretel Fernsby, a ninety-one-year-old woman who has lived in the same block of London for decades. She’s the same Gretel featured in Boyne’s best-known novel, ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.’ She has a storied history, having escaped from Nazi Germany when she was a child. Her father was a commandant of an extermination camp. The novel is incredibly emotional and multi-layered as the older woman begins a friendship with a younger boy. Henry brings back memories of her youth that she’d rather not remember. 

The Heart’s Invisible Furies 

The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a more recent novel published in 2017 that follows the life and troubles of an adopted boy Cyril Avery. He struggles to come to terms with his origins and the world he’s living in now. The novel follows his attempts to come to terms with who he is, where he lives, and where he’s from. It is set in Ireland in the 1940s. 

The Absolutist 

The Absolutist is a deeply sad novel that follows Tristan Sadler, a twenty-one-year-old who travels to meet a fellow soldier’s sister in 1919. He describes the war, the bond he had with his friend, and the terrible pain of the war and its immense losses. 

A Ladder to the Sky 

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne is a psychological drama that was published in 2018. The novel is a satire that follows Maurice Swift, who has spent his life seeking out fame without the requisite talent required. He worked at a West Berlin Hotel in 1988 and had the opportunity to meet a famous novelist. But, things don’t go as planned, and Maurice soon learns a terrible secrete from the novelist’s past. He travels around the world seeking out more secrets to use to his advantage. 

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain 

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne is written in the style of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.’ It, too, uses a youthful narrator to describe major world historical events. It follows a French boy, Pierrot, who leaves home to stay with his Aunt in the German mountains. Little does he know that the home is Berghof and belongs to Adolf Hitler. 

Stay Where You Are & Then Leave

Stay Where You Are & Then Leave is another young adult novel by John Boyne. It starts at the beginning of World War I when his father goes off to fight. He doesn’t see his father for four years until he discovers his name on some papers in King’s Cross Station. He follows the clues the papers supply to a military hospital where his father is suffering from a strange condition. 

The Dare 

The Dare by John Boyne is a young adult novel that focuses on Danny Delaney, whose mother accidentally hits a young boy with her car at the start of summer vacation. The child is in a coma, and Danny struggles to deal with the changes that come over his family. The novel, like ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,’ is told from the perspective of a child. 

A History of Loneliness 

Boyne’s A History of Loneliness tells the story of an Irish priest who, after years of working a parish in Clonliffe, experiences a transformation of his profession. His colleagues stand trial, and even he is subject to scrutiny for an entirely innocent action. He’s forced to confront the darkness at the heart of the catholic church. The novel was published in 2016. 

The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket 

The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket is a children’s novel published in 2013. It tells the story of an eight-year-old boy who can defy gravity, floating into the sky to the horror of his parents. They desperately want him to be normal, but he can’t stop having a special ability. He traveled all over the world, from Canada to Ireland and then into outer space. It’s a perfect novel to invigorate the imaginations of children in elementary school and middle school. 


What is John Boyne’s best-selling book?

John Boyne’s best-selling book is The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.’ It has sold over 11 million copies around the world and is today studied in schools and universities. 

Is The Heart’s Invisible Furies a true story?

The Heart’s Invisible Furies is not a true story, but it’s based on real events in Ireland during that period. 

What genre is John Boyne?

John Boyne’s work is generally categorized as literary fiction. He focuses on real-seeming people who contend with real-life events. Often, his novels are based on historical events. 

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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