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 as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist)at Auschwitz.
Imprisoned for more than two and a half years in a Nazi concentration camp, Lale, a Slovakian Jew, witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. He is able to secure the position as a tattooist because he speaks multiple languages. 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 (Gita) waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm and vows to survive and marry her one day. The book goes through his experience of courting and falling in love with Gita, despite living in horrific conditions and not knowing if he’ll live to see tomorrow.
For my 2020 Reading Challenges, I used “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” for the following prompts and challenges:
- PopSugar Reading Challenge 2020: A book by an author with floral or fauna in their name
- Around the Year in 52 Books: A book set in a place or time that you wouldn’t want to live
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.