What I’m Reading: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #1)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.

My review:

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

 

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What I’m Watching

SPOILER ALERT: A word of caution as this post may contain SPOILERS for the following TV series: The Big Bang Theory, Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19, This is Us, FBI, A Million Little Things, and Lethal Weapon. (GoT fans, you’re safe!) So skip through or mark this post as “READ” if you’re one of the “too cool for cable” kids who waits for everything to be available to download …

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What I’m Reading: Nine Perfect Strangers

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From the book jacket:

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

My review:

While it started off a little slow for my liking, I really enjoyed the eventual build-up to knowing who all the characters are fully. It kept me reading and wanting more, to say the least!

Nine Perfect Strangers, in a nutshell, is a bit all over the place, but I think that really reflects the characters. Masha, is absolutely bonkers, and I was always curious to see what crazy tangent she would go on next.

The rest of the characters were all relatable in some way: Jessica being obsessed with social media and her appearance, Tony longing for what once was, Frances feeling heartbroken after being duped, Carmel just trying to survive as a single mom … In ways I felt sympathy for them and at times they frustrated me. (Like Napoleon the Coddler, for example.)

Over all, I kind of liked the ridiculousness of the story and Tranquillum House. I mean, there’s health resorts, and then there’s this place! I think Moriarty took the worst aspects of every health resort/spa in the world and applied them all to this one place. It was a little over the top in a way, but sometimes I don’t mind a little absurdity. I also really enjoyed that we got little glimpses of what happened to everyone post-Masha’s craziness. I hate how so many storylines just end and you don’t get to know what happened afterwards.

My rating: ★★★★/5