I was sent this book from Harper Collins Canada, and all I can say is thank goodness I was given the chance to read this book. This is a complete five stars rating!! Over the last couple years, I feel like WW2 fiction has increased in popularity… but this novel, is one that you MUST read.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on a true story. Heather Morris had interviewed Lale Sokolov to get his story before he had passed in 2006. I’ve deep dived this topic in the last couple days… listening to interviews with Lale, podcast interviews with Heather Morris, and also using my “google search bar”. Let’s just say after reading this book I’m absolutely fascinated with the true story behind this novel!
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. When it’s discovered that he speaks several languages, he is given a job of somewhat privilege as the Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist). He is able to get through his days by reminding himself that if he is the one that gives each prisoner a tattoo, they will at least see the sun come up the next day. Lale uses this position of privilege to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to feed his fellow prisoners. Then in July 1942, Lale meets Gita. In his words, he tattooed the number 32407 on her arm, and she tattooed her number on his heart. The two of them witness barbaric events, and incredibly both survived.
“You know something, Tatoweierer? I bet you’re the only Jew who ever walked into an oven and then walked back out of it.”
This is Heather Morris’ debut novel. She had interviewed Lale when his wife Gita had passed away. It took her several years to write Lale’s story, and I think she did it with such compassion. This book stands apart from a lot of the historical fiction books based around the Holocaust, as it’s such a true account of what went on inside the camps. There are moments that Lale accounts from inside Auschwitz-Birkeneau that are remarkable and all for different reasons…. the Polish workers that helped smuggle food in, the fact that the guards planned a soccer game against the weakened prisoners, and the network of communication the prisoners had.
This book is so many things, but mostly inspiring. As a reader it reminds you about the human spirit, and it’s will to survive. It reminds you of the horrors that have happened not that long ago, and how we need to change. And lastly, it’s a beautiful love story.
Go read this book, please!! It’s so amazing, and I think exactly what humans need to be reading right now in this crazy world.