The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris
Reading Challenge Category: A book based on a true story
I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart. In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival - scratching numbers into his fellow victims' arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale - a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer - it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too. So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.
Wow, where do I start? I find writing reviews about a book that has completely moved me and hollowed me out so difficult. I never feel like I can do the book justice nor impress how beautiful yet harrowing this book was. The book was very delicately written. I think because the prisoners were desensitised to a lot that was happening, it lessened the impact a little for us the reader. I did keep forgetting that this was based on a true story. The horrific things Lale was describing actually happened. I found it so hard to get my head around that a lot. I got caught up so much in the story and the small glimpses of happiness that Lale and Gita were able to snatch that for moments I’d forget where they were and how indescribably cruel their situation was. Lale took way too many risks for my liking and had me on the edge of my seat far too many times. Knowing that his story could end at any point was always a threat. The risk-taking and the chances he took were undoubtedly a testament to his strong character; he was determined not to be beaten by his circumstances. I devoured this book as quickly as I could as I needed to know everyone’s fate, even though I knew what happened to Auschwitz as a whole, I needed to know how Lale’s story ended. I did feel like the ending was somewhat rushed and I was left wanting more detail. I was a little confused by some of the things that happened at the end and I think a little bit more time spent with the ending would have been profitable. I did like all of the author’s notes after the story concluded and explaining the process and everything she went through to get this book written. The in-depth process of making sure everything was as factual and correct as possible is very much appreciated. It also drove home the reality of the book, once again reminding us that these atrocities happened, they were real events and real people. Having learned Cilka’s destiny broke me, and I will most definitely be reading her story when it is released later this year!