From the book jacket:
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. 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 waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.
This really is a harrowing story, as all novels about the Holocaust usually are, but there was something about The Tattooist of Auschwitz that was heart-warming at the same time. How could a love so deep come out of such a tragic and horrific event? Truly, Lale and Gita’s passion for each other spilled over into their passion to survive one of the most horrific events known to mankind.
I found The Tattooist of Auschwitz to be a fast read, which is unusual compared to most of the other historical fiction stories I have read. Rather than building up, the author almost jumps right into things and shifts occasionally to before Lale’s sentence, which helped keep me drawn to the storyline.
The ending, however, left me wanting a little more. I found that after the concentration camps were liberated, the storyline got to the point too quickly. One thing would happen, then another, and another, but there was very little detail.
I wasn’t until I read the the afterword and the author’s notes when I realized why this may have been. To learn that this was based on a true story and that Morris befriended Lale himself made the style of writing make more sense.
Though heart-wrenching, The Tattooist of Auschwitz proves that love can be found even in the darkest moments, and that you can push through anything if you have someone to live for.
My rating: ★★★★½/5