The Tattooist of Auschwitz Book Review | Blogmas #4

The Tattooist of Auschwitz Book Review | Blogmas #4The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
four-half-stars
Genres: Historical Fiction
Published by Bonnier Publishing Australia

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

I heard amazing things about The Tattooist of Auschwitz and was excited to jump into the story and read about Auschwitz but from a completely different viewpoint. I think reading about the inner goings on of the camp from someone who had more knowledge of what was happening and saw the decisions that were being made behind the scenes it was completely new reading experience for me. Lale was in an odd position of not being favourited as such but given certain privileges that the others were not afforded. I really enjoyed reading this book and I feel that I actually learnt a lot more about the way Auschwitz started and how it was run. 

I think there was a lot of politics brought through in this book but also really heartbreaking moments, I cried at least three times throughout this book. I can’t put into words what this book made me feel. I don’t know how I would have gotten through The Tattooist of Auschwitz if there hadn’t been a little bit of relief in the way of his love story. I’m not undermining what they went through in the camp but I think the hope that they both felt in finding each other, gave me the hope to carry on reading, because I refused to believe that this could have an awful ending. I know I know, vastly naive, especially as we all know the history of Auschwitz.

The only reason this book didn’t get 5 stars was that I thought at times the writing let the story down. I think there were parts of the plot and things that happened in The Tattooist of Auschwitz that was almost brushed over but actually I would have preferred to read more about those moments and learn the reasons behind why these things were happening. I also struggled with the lack of explanation about the various parts of the camp, I understand that Heather Morris actually visited Lale and wrote the book with him, but from an outsider who had no further knowledge of Auschwitz, the various factions were hard to keep a track off and know what was happening.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a book I would recommend over and over again regardless of my problems with the writing. The insight and the information in this book is at time quite overwhelming and the ending made me sob, but I do think it’s important to learn about cruelty that took place to ensure that it never happens again.

Have you read The Tattooist of Auschwitz? What did you think? Was it one that you enjoyed? Let me know in the comments!

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