KV Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Book: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

If you read and liked The Huntress or are a fan of historical fiction, you’ll enjoy this book!

Kara Vallari Book Review:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile because it comes highly recommended by many. However, if Im being honest, I struggled with it a bit. When I think of Auschwitz, or any concentration camp for that matter, my mind immediately goes to a dark, horrible place. This story highlights a very different perspective of an entitled prisoner who gets away with so much by essentially corroborating with the enemy. And perhaps that is the goal of the book – to show this side of the concentration camps – but there were so many times where Lale escaped death or punishment, that it just didn’t seem realistic or even fair to everyone else who was enduring the same reality in much worse conditions.

On the flip side, I enjoyed having a male protagonist. I so often read stories from the female perspective and it was nice to see the love story unfold through the eyes of a male. I thought it was well written and Lale, the main character, was particularly well developed. I think the saving grace for me is that this book appears to be based on a true story. I almost wish I knew that going into it because I think that would have shifted my perspective from disbelief to intrigue over the human psyche and the many shades of gray that exist in this world.

If you’re into historical fiction, this is probably a must read. Even if you don’t love the narrative, it’s really interesting to learn about the concentration camps from such a unique perspective.

Book Synopsis (from Amazon):

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.

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