I am a self professed World War II fiction junkie. I scour through the internet for any WWII related anecdotes and historical facts. So when the whole world was reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris could I be left out? Actually I was, I read it real late.
Anyway.. I caught up with the trend and I am posting my review even later than what I had planned. But I am here now, and shall we talk about The Tattooist of Auschwitz?
About the Tattooist of Auschwitz
Book Name: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Author: Heather Morris
Characters: Lale Sokolov, Gita Sokolov, CIlka
Plot Summary of the Tattooist of Auschwitz
Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, holds a relatively privileged position at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist). He risks his life several times to scrap off jewelry and money of dead Jew prisoners and then exchange them to buy more food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
He feels an immediate connection with Gita, one of the prisoners he had to tattoo and the affection is quite mutual. Despite the circumstances, they sneak out and meet each other, at every opportunity they get. They vow to marry if they ever escape the camp, if at all.
Did they get to keep their promise? Did they escape? The answers to these questions form the rest of The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
Book review of the Tattooist of Auschwitz
I couldn’t stop myself from mentally putting myself in Lale’s place while reading the book, from my comfortable couch, and then feel guilty about it. It must have been hard keeping up his spirits and humanity throughout the book and his real life, and I loved it
I particularly liked the fact that how he made friends with the people from other countries and races, despite whatever he has been “taught at home” about them, given how stubborn people were on those days.
When I think of a tale of a real life survivor from a genocide, I wanted to cry, be shocked and be enraged. Sadly that is not what I felt. And I am sucker for emotional readers, and the plot was all that. But it didn’t work for me at all. For me it was just another romance, and worse, it romanticizes the whole harrowing experience at the concentration camp.
And I definitely was not prepared for The Tattooist of Auschwitz being a romance-centric book. That one might be on me, I should have read the blurb/ synopsis better.
Also, while reading the book, someone sent me an interview of how the author wasn’t true to the real tattooist of Auschwitz’s story (which she was borrowing) and they had a dispute. Well, that put me a little off. Poor guy!
Things that worked for me
- As I have clearly established, I love the WWII premise and historical fiction in general.
- I loved that there was optimism and time for love even during those dire days.
Things that didn’t work for me
- I wished the storytelling was better and it actually made me feel something.
- It was a romance book, predominantly and I expected more of the history part.
- It may be just me, but I felt the book was romanticizing the concentration camps, which is horrible if you think about it.
Similar reviews you might like
- The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
If you want to read a romance from WWII era, choose The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. But if you want to read about the war itself or what it does to ordinary people, there are better books to choose from.
Let us chat
Have you read the Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris? How did you like it? What other World War II books have you read? Let us talk.