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

 

Advertisements

What I’m Reading: Nine Perfect Strangers

39280445

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

What I’m Reading: The Island of Sea Women

From the book jacket:

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.

My review:

The Island of Sea Women is such a captivating and powerful story not only two friends, but women and their relationships as well. especially since it is based around true historical events. The detail that Lisa See goes into is, as always, remarkable and she really captures the horrific events is such a beautiful way.

What I especially liked about this book is the relationship between Young-sook and Mi-ja; to me, their relationship is similar to those that many women have: we’re inseparable but as we get older, our faith in one another is tested in a make-or-break fashion.

In my opinion, Young-sook and Mi-ja’s friendship was flawed. While it seems strong on the outside, Young-sook’s haenyeo upbringing blinded her to Mi-ja’s “Western” struggles as Mi-ja didn’t have the courage to speak up for herself. Still, their story grabbed me and I couldn’t help but want them to resolve their differences.

The Island of Sea Women opened my eyes to a part of Asian history that I had absolutely no knowledge of, and as I mentioned before, Lisa See tells its tale so wonderfully. I heart hurts for those who were impacted by the 4.3 Incident and I’m really interested in learning more about this island’s history overall.

Despite all of the tragedy within the storyline, it still absorbed me completely. I’d definitely recommend it as it introduces such a different lifestyle for women.

My rating: ★★★★½/5