The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel by Heather Morris

Is it read-worth? Have you ever picked up a book and loved it, but hated it at the same time? That’s kind of how I felt when I was reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I simultaneously couldn’t put it down and couldn’t get into it. Just because it’s about a horrific event doesn’t mean I’m going to sugarfy my review. It just wasn’t what everyone worked it up to be. 

Why? Because while the characters and the storyline were relatively interesting, this book seemed to hide the horrors of the Holocaust. Lale’s life didn’t communicate the horrible conditions, the Nazi beliefs, or the true dehumanization of living in a concentration camp. Other Holocaust books I’ve read scream that the Holocaust is horrible and should never be repeated. The Tattooist of Auschwitz just barely managed a squeak in comparison. Life at concentration camp seemed relatively tolerable and allowing that perception to spread feeds into the propoganda of Holocaust deniers (who are real people who are still insisting that the Holocaust didn’t happen, FYI). 

And, then, there was another reason. I failed to connect with any type of emotions from the characters. I did not feel the horror, the love, the terror, anything. I didn’t cry. I wanted to cry. I wanted to be horrified. I wanted to feel something. Instead, I just felt like I was glossing over a text book in most parts. And, at that, it wasn’t a very factual text book. 

However, this isn’t to diminish the experiences of the real characters who inspired the book.The faults of this story are at the sole responsibility of the author and the editors who allowed it to be published before doing a deeper level analysis of the storyline. This very well could have been a ground shattering story full of emotion that communicated the reality of the Holocaust. Instead, it was just an okay book that missed the only point it should have had.

Back of the Book

“The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.
Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer– the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance. His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good. This story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz- Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. It is heart-wrenching, illuminating, and unforgettable.”

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