Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Author: Heather Morris
Publication: September 4, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads:
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’ve read a lot of books about the Holocaust. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Girl in the Blue Coat, Paper Hearts, The Diary of Anne Frank. (All worth reading, by the way.) Every time though I am struck by the hardships Jews and others faced. I am appalled by the inhumanity and the negative treatment they received. And I always end up thinking…this happened less than 80 years ago. How? Why? I find myself struggling with these questions all the time when I delve into stories like this. Yet, in the seemingly impossible circumstances during the 1940’s, stories of hope, love, and strength can emerge. This is one such story.
Lale, a prisoner himself, has the unfortunate (yet you’ll come to learn somewhat privileged) job of tattooing numbers on every incoming prisoner to the concentration camp he resides in. This is how he meets Gita, the love of his life. He tattoos more than just a number on her skin; he leaves an impression on her heart, even after their very first encounter. This is an impression that surges into passion during the limited visits they get to have and then finally transforms into a love so powerful that they begin dreaming of a life together once they leave the camp. There is such hope in their relationship and that makes you want to cheer for them and their escape from their dreadful circumstances. There are several other minor characters and storylines that are equally gripping and contribute greatly to the book as a whole.
It seems strange to give a book about the Holocaust 5 out of 5 stars because the event itself was so terribly tragic, but that’s exactly what I think it deserves. Though horrifying at times, it’s worth reading. No question, 5 out of 5 stars for The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
STAR RATING: 5/5
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local bookstore. Make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished.