Title: The tattooist of Auschwitz
Writer: Heather Morris
Genre: Historical fiction
“I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart.”
In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrives in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He is 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, is a young girl. For Lale, it is love at first sight. And he is determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, does, too. So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous and unforgettable stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.
The tattooist of Auschwitz is based on a true story, and as such, story itself is hard to criticize. Lale Sokolov is one of many who ended up in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous “death camp”. Lale gets a lucky break when he is given the job as a tattooist. With the job comes many privileges, such as private bedroom and better meals. Instead of insuring his own well-being he uses the opportunity to help other prisoners by smuggling them food and other necessities. It is perfectly clear to me why Gita can not resist Lale and falls in love with him. He is such a great man!! We could all take his example, especially now with the Corona virus wreaking havoc in our midst. For Lale, his kindness pays off later when he is the one needing help.
This book took away my belief in humanity and then gave it back tenfold. It is haunting and terrifying and takes you right into the middle of the worst times in mankinds history. Yet Heather Morris has managed to write the story so that it is beautiful and hopeful in spite of morbid circumstances. If I had to criticize something I would point out that, for me, the ending fell flat. Life in the Auschwitz-Birkenau was so full of “omg, are they even going to survive” moments that it sort of numbed me to the rest of the story. I would have been okay if Heather Morris had finished off with simply telling that after a while Lale and Gita finally found each other, and so on. Still, the ending is better the way it is. I wouldn’t change a thing.