#BookReview ~ The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris @BonnierZaffre #BookBoost

For readers of Schindler’s ListThe Man Who Broke into Auschwitz and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas comes a heart-breaking story of the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.

I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart.

In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.

Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.

So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.

Purchase Here

About the Author

I am a Native of New Zealand now resident in Australia, working in a large public hospital in Melbourne. For several years I studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an academy award winning Screenwriter in the U.S. In 2003, I was introduced to an elderly gentleman “who might just have a story worth telling”. The day I met Lale Sokolov changed my life, as our friendship grew and he embarked on a journey of self scrutiny, entrusting the inner most details of his life during the Holocaust. I originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into my debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

My Review

Sometimes a book like this will literally jump into my line of vision and demand to be read. I’ve always held a fascination for information regarding all aspects of the war. I have read several books about the Holocaust, some very basic accounts, some obviously ‘lightened’ for the reader and some so historically in depth they have been difficult to decipher.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a superb piece of writing which involves the reader from the start. It really is one of those “I’ll just read one more page” books that before you know it you are so entranced the time has gone and the story is finished. This one is based on a true tale, the author spent time with Lale and this is his story. While it depicts the absolute horror of the situation it also provides hope and shows love can grow in extreme circumstances. His loyalty and devotion to his wife Gita meant he waited until after her death for the story to be shared.

Imagine the scenes of being captured, slung onto cattle trains, not knowing if you would be chosen to live or die. The raw brutality the people of Auschwitz endured is a living nightmare. They literally would do anything to survive. Lale was chosen to brand the prisoners with a number, their ID, the inner turmoil of humiliating his peers while being a victim himself was heartbreaking. One false move or word and he could be disposed of as easily as the next person.

When he met Gita, love blossomed but they couldn’t risk being discovered. Not only did he vow to keep himself safe enough to survive but undertook responsibility for her too. 

This is a stunning portrayal of what life was like on a day to day basis, it’s graphic, deeply personal, you can sense the pain of starvation, the numbingly aching frozen bones, the stench of death. If you aren’t familiar with the Holocaust this is a very satisfying read that will soon enlighten you. It’s certainly not a pleasant relaxing story, how could it possibly be? But it will stay with you and just maybe make you appreciate life a little more. 

Lale clinches the atmosphere totally with his wisdom “If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day”. That says it all and sums up this book entirely.

Thanks to the author, publisher and netgalley. I read and reviewed voluntarily.

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