Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Updated: Apr 25
Heather Morris' "The Tattooist of Auschwitz" was a gripping and sincere read. I heard of this book back in 2019, but waited to read the book because I wanted to use it for the PopSugar Reading Challenge for 2020. While the story is based on true events, it's not told exactly how it happened and the author took some creative liberties to keep the story moving. "The Tattooist of Auschwitz" is loosely based on the life of Lale Sokolov during his time at a tattooer at Auschwitz.
Summary (via 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 more than 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 read this book to fulfill the following prompt for the PopSugar Reading Challenge: "a book by an author with floral or fauna in their name." If you are also following the PopSugar Reading Challenge, you can use it for the following prompts:
- A book published the month of your birthday (September)
- A book with more than 20 letters in the title
- A book that won an award in 2019
Winner Audie Award for Fiction 2019 (for audiobook)
Winner Neilsen Gold Bestseller Award 2019
On GoodReads, I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. It was a compelling read that held my interest throughout the book. There were some gutting moments that caused me to but the book down for a second to process what I read, but I won't spoil those moments for you. The book was much shorter than what I expected (around 250 pages including the epilogue). I did not like how the book broke up sections with just a bar, although there were chapter markers in the book. I wish there would've been a section at the top of each new section where the perspective changed.
Overall, if you read a book about the Holocaust, I would recommend this one. It's always hard to convey in words what happened in these camps, and you always want to pay respect to those affected by the Holocaust. I think Morris did the job, but I will always wonder why she made some of the writing decisions she did. If you read this, please remember that this is considered historical fiction, and it is not 100% what actually happened in Nazi camps during the 1940s.