The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris


The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Paperback: 288 pages

Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (Sept. 4 2018)

ISBN-13: 978-0062877000


Synopsis: 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.

* * *

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, tells the story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jewish man put in charged of tattooing inmates at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. This story of survival during one of histories most darkest chapters is illuminated by a love story formed within the camps and that lasted for many years after. Morris conducted many interviews with Sokolov to get his story accurate and true; this novel is so haunting and beautiful at the same time, it literally left me speechless.

This book does an amazing job of captivating the true horrors and atrocities of the Holocaust. Morris did an amazing job of recreating Sokolov’s story and making it come to life on the page. I often found myself having to put the book down and take a break, because it just felt so real. This is a story that will break your heart and then put it back together again – to see such a strong love bloom in such conditions helps to restore your sense of humanity.  While reading, I found myself drawing comparisons and similarities in writing style to Elie Wisel’s Night as both novels do an amazing job of depicting the true horrors of the Holocaust.

Sokolov is made the tattooist of Auschwitz-Birkenau due to his ability to speak many languages – it is while he is working one day that he meets Gita, the woman who would become his wife. Morris tells the story of what Lale and Gita lived through in the camps and how their love grew in such darkness.

One thing I really loved about this book was the acknowledgment written at the end by Gary Sokolov, the son of Lale and Gita. It was such a beautiful homage to his parents and helps to conclude the story and bring it full circle.

This is a must read for WWII and Holocaust book readers.

Rating: 10/10

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Harper Collins Canada *

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