My third 5 star read of the year goes to the incredible Tattooist of Auschwitz which certainly lived up to the Instagram hype. As you might have seen, I am drawn to books about the Holocaust because they affect me in ways I never imagined. They give me a completely different outlook on life and a new-found appreciation that I never had to suffer the way people did in concentration camps.
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day.”
This book is a true story based on true experiences.
Lale was a Slovakian Jew, transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942. Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale was given the job of ‘Tätowierer’ tasked with inflicting pain and permanence on his fellow camp mates. Of the thousands of numbers he etched, the was one he could never forget: 34902 belonging to Gita – the woman he fell in love with and vowed to live for.
As Tätowierer, Lale became a known face with both the prisoners and the guards. He often accumulated jewels and money, exchanging them for food that he shared out amongst the hungriest. He cheated death on many occasions, always hopeful for a way out, living purely for Gita. Though this story encapsulated the horrors of the holocaust, it was also an enduring love story struggling to survive under impossible conditions.
“To save one is to save the world.”
One thing that kept niggling me when I read this book was the overpowering sense of realism. It wasn’t a story of fiction, though I’m sure everyone wishes it wasn’t true. But the fact is, this was a real life account of one man’s experience in the concentration camps. I was constantly reminded that the events were true, making it impossible to process the vile actions taken against innocent people. It touched me in ways I couldn’t imagine. The grief, the death, the inhumanity of it all. It’s a harsh reality that you can’t ignore.
“We stand in shit but let us not drown in it.”
I have to praise Heather Morris here for her writing style which was completely detached and focused solely on Lale. She didn’t inject her own opinion or sanitise the events – it was a raw account that was heartfelt, honest and emotional. I felt like I was on a personal journey with Lale and felt every emotion, from pain and anguish to strength and love.
You can purchase a copy of The Tattooist of Auschwitz here: Amazon
Disclosure: I am part of an affiliate program which means that I may earn a small commission if you purchase through my affiliate links at no additional cost to you.
If you enjoyed The Tattooist of Auschwitz and are looking for other books in this genre, I highly recommend The Girl From Berlin and The Storyteller, both of which I have read, reviewed, and rated highly.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 288 (paperback)
About the author: The Tattooist of Auschwitz is Heather Morris’s debut novel and was written after she spent years getting to know Lale Sokolov in his home in Australia. She is a native New Zealander now working in a public hospital in Melbourne.