The Tattooist of Auschwitz – A book review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz – A book review

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

The Tattooist of Auschwitz Cover

Book Name: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Genre: Fiction –  HistoricalDrama

Characters: Lale Sokolov, Gita Sokolov, CIlka

Setting: Krompachy, Slovakia, Auschwitz, Poland

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.

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Bottom-line

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.

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz – A book review

Review shots: A comic, poetry and World War memoir

It has been a while since we spoke about Non Fiction books here, hasn’t it? In the May’s edition of review shots I am going to talk about three different kinds of non fiction – a poetry from a new age poet that I love, a comic about us, and a world war II memoir. Did I pique your interest? So let us get started! 

Disclaimer

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sharing a copy for review and it no way affected my unbiased and honest opinion.

Love Looks Pretty on You

Author: Lang Leav 

Genre: Non Fiction – Poetry 

No. of Pages: 224

I am sure Lang Leav is no stranger to any of us. And in her sixth book she has brought her magic back. I kept underlining her and highlighting so many of her lines, especially the ones about abuse in relationships and being a strong woman. 

When my best friend told me

she was in love

my first thought was,

‘I hope he is good to her.’

And it suddenly occurred to me,

what I held in my heart for her

was hope, when it should

have been expectation.

I love that her prose/poetry has always been easy to read and relate. I have felt in her earlier works she talks a little too much about heartbreak and being in love for my taste, and there is nothing wrong about that and it is just me, not her. But she has proved herself as a matured writer in this one. 

Final thought: Though monotonous at times, the author moved past from the heartbreaks to more mature subjects. 

Recommended to: If you liked her previous works, this should be on your list as well

Book love

Author: Debbie Tung 

Genre: Non Fiction – Comic

No. of Pages: 143

Have you ever thought about the crazy things that you been doing as a bookworm? Of course I would not blame you because I do them as well. And this book is for you. I can’t recommend this enough to anyone who loves books.

Book love kept me grinning throughout the book because it was all true. And it was as if someone took a peek into my life and just drew them but in a less clumsy way.

Though it would hardly take an hour to finish this one, I would suggest to go through this book slowly and enjoy taking a laugh at yourself. 

Final thought: Catch yourself smiling at the quirky bookworm habits 

Recommended to: Must read for book lovers!

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Author: Diane Ackerman 

Genre: Non Fiction – Historical

No. of Pages: 368

I read The Zookeeper’s Wife for the A-Z reading challenge last year and I have no idea why I had not reviewed it until now, other than the fact that I forgot to. And there is a well known movie as well adapted from this historical drama. 

The invasion of Germany into Poland and the consequent bombing affected not only the people but also the animals that were held in the Polish zoos. The zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski save Jews by letting the stay in the empty cages. The Zookeeper’s wife follows the life of a ‘sorta’ family that socializes with ‘guests’ after the dark and caring for the animals during the day. 

I love reading the Holocaust and WW II novels so I quickly jumped at the chance to read this one. But I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to. There were more interesting parts, like where Jan tries to help the prisoners escape than the zoo life at home. 

Final thought: Interesting premise even if it is slow and dragging at places

Recommended to: History buffs.

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Have you read any of these books? Do you read poetry as much as you like to? What is your feedback ratio on Netgalley? Let us talk. 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz – A book review

Book review: I’m not from Around Here

Y’all by now should know that I have a weakness for World War II stories. My curiosity towards Holocaust and the tragedies related to that has lead me to some good books and several hours of random history lessons on the Internet.

And I was offered by Ishai Kalinovsky to read an ARC of his memoir I’m not from Around Here in exchange for a review, I had to accept it even though I don’t read many memoirs generally. How did it turn out? Read ahead to know more.

About the book

I'm not from Around Here

Book Name: I’m not from Around Here

Author: Ishai Kalinovsky

Genre: Non-Fiction – HistoricalMemoir

Characters: Lola, Stashek, Hannah, the narrator Sam, Emile.

Setting: Poland, Germany, and Israel

Disclaimer: I received this indie book from the author in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Plot

I’m not from Around Here reads like a diary of the author Ishai Kalinovsky that talks about the experiences of his Jewish family right from the time of the World War II in Poland. His mother is a labor camp survivor while her dad was a street fighter in Warsaw. The couple meet immediately after the end of the War and escape to Germany to win what was looted from the Jews.

I’m not from Around Here is not about the war but its aftermath on Jews and the other survivors. The narrator’s father, Stashek is an unscrupulous businessman who would do what he has to provide for himself, his mistresses and his family. He takes up to the black market business and has a great influence on the society by being fearsome.

When his parents break up his mother Lola takes up another man and gets pregnant, which is a total no-no in their orthodox neighborhood. Lola was a timid, weak girl when she entered the labor camp. But her firm belief in her guardian angel helped her survive all the adversities in her life.

Meanwhile, the narrator’s estranged father and stepfather are arrested for smuggling cars into the country. How the narrator and his family survive the final blow of being strewn across the country forms the rest of I’m not from Around Here.

My thoughts

Being a memoir we get to take a glimpse at what really happened in the camps but that is just a small part in the book. I sort of guessed the story would end up before the young ones grew up and am glad it ended so.

Even though the narration is by the young Ishai Kalinovsky through out, I’m not from Around Here has multiple point of views which work in some places and not in others.There were too many characters mostly minor that do not contribute much to the story, which may be partly owing to the genre.

Usually I don’t read many memoirs because they would hard for me to relate to. But maybe since I’m not from Around Here had multiple POV and the narrator was a young boy I was able to relate and I ended up liking the characters.

Bottom – line

I’m not from Around Here is quite long with about 400 pages but it was totally worth the read and it left me emotionally drained for hours.

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Do you read memoirs? Is it easier to review or talk about memoir than fictions? Do you feel emotionally drained after you finish reading a book? Let’s chat.