The Tattooist of Auschwitz
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The Tattooist Of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a book I just finished reading. It is based on a true story, although it is not considered historically accurate. It is simply the personal story of two holocaust survivors. 

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Have you read The Tattooist of Auschwitz from author Heather Morris? Come on in and let me tell you about it! 

About The Tattooist of Auschwitz 

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, was 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 over 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. 

Thoughts on The Tattooist of Auschwitz 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

One of the most prolific symbols of the holocaust is the number tattoos on the arms of prisoners. This was Lale’s job to do. When Lale tattoos Gita’s arm, it is said to be love at first sight. He vowed to survive and make a life with her outside the camp. 

With the help of several others, prisoners, guards, and civilians, Lale is able to use his privilege to help others and ensure Gita stays safer than most. He does this by getting her the job and relaying messages back and forth, as well as visiting with her. It was clearly a well-known fact that they were in love and guards went out of their way, with the proper bribes, to allow them time together. 

It is a love story that flourishes in the most horrific time and circumstances. They were clearly meant to be together, as they remained married until death. How can anyone not want to see them succeed and make it out to build that dream life? I know I did! 

My biggest complaint about The Tattooist of Auschwitz is that all of the characters seemed very one dimensional. There is far more to them all than what is talked about in the book. More details are needed to really bring it to life. I felt this was especially true after all the hype I read online talking about how emotional the readers felt when reading it. I felt nothing. 

It is a good story, don’t get me wrong. But it is not a great story. It has potential, there is no doubt about that. Because clearly Lale and Gita were extraordinary people to have not only survived the holocaust, but thrived once they escaped and were reunited. 

Heather Morris, had originally written The Tattooist of Auschwitz as a screenplay and not a book. It was only later that she turned it into a book and it gained traction and popularity. I feel like if it is turned into a movie, the characters will shine far more than in the book. Lale and Gita need actors to bring them to life. 

Final Thoughts on The Tattooist of Auschwitz 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Many have criticized the book for not being historically accurate. It is “based on a true story” and Heather Morris does admit to embellishing it at times and changing details. It is also based on the memories of a man who is well over eighty years old that had not told his story before that. 

He refused to while Gita was alive for fear she would be called a nazi conspirator for her job during her imprisonment. It is also not a story about the holocaust or the history of it. It is a personal story of two people during the holocaust. There is a difference. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, it is a good book. As I said, not a great book in my opinion. But I went into it with high expectations too. At the end of the day, it is still a good book about two extraordinary people to have made it through such a horrific experience. 

Discussion 

Have you read The Tattooist of Auschwitz from author Heather Morris? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

If you enjoyed this review and want more, visit my favorite books

About the Author 

Heather Morris is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia. For several years, while working in a large public hospital in Melbourne, she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US. 

In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives. Their friendship grew and Lale embarked on a journey of self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. 

Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Purchasing The Tattooist of Auschwitz

If you are interested in buying the paperback version of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, click here.

Click here for the Kindle version.

Click here for my favorite Kindle I currently own.

Amazon Notice 

The Reading Wife is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, at no added cost to you. 

27 Comments

    • Snehal

      I have read many stories on holocaust. And I would like to get my hands on this one too. Especially if it is a love story. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Anda

    Oh, I have seen this book recommended so much and in my country every one is going crazy about it. I loved your review, thank you for it!

  • Laura

    The holocaust is one of those topics where you can tell millions of different stories because everyone’s experience is different. It’s also a topic that can both repel and attract because of its subject matter. This one seems to be less of a downer than others of its kind, not that it should be sugar coated, but it’s nice to hear that someone was able to adapt a love story around a horrific situation. I’ll keep an eye out for this one. I think it might be a good book on tape read to listen to in the car.

  • Scott J DeNicola

    I had actually heard about this book and also heard varying opinions about it. Much like you said good but could have gone a bit deeper in the characters. The topic is rich for character development for sure. There have been so many holocaust stories depicting those terrible times that it’s good to see a different one.

  • Lyosha

    I have this book at home waiting for me to read (it is my next). I knew his story from before and I really want to know more details. It is so touching and scary. I wish his story never had to happen.

  • Trish Veltman

    I hadn’t come across this book yet, but it sounds like it’ll be worth dipping in to. I enjoyed your review – you conveyed a good synopsis of the story without giving too much of the detail away,

  • Rachele Hollingsworth

    I have heard so many good things about this book! One of my coworkers read it and just loved it. I’m always reluctant to read a book that I know will be sad, but I’m definitely adding this one to my list.

  • Lavern Moore

    I would love to read this book. I find the fortitude and resolve of those who experienced the holocaust eerily fascinating and incredibly sad. I would love to read the story of the tattoo artist and see the movie when it is made.

  • Tracy @ Cleland Clan

    I’m on the fence about reading this book. I’ve looked at it, but haven’t broken down and bought it. I may check it out at the library though (or just wait for the movie). As for now, I have so many other good books that are waiting to be read!

  • By Joanna K

    I haven’t read the book, only your review of it. I like how you add a personal touch to it, making it easy for readers to follow and understand your viewpoint.
    I’ve recently visited the Jewish Museum in my town, for a guided tour. We had an interesting discussion, reaching the conclusion that we can interpret past events on the basis of present experiences. We can imagine how it was then, yet we can’t know how it really felt.

  • Thuy

    I’d never heard of this book before. It’s amazing that love can blossom in such circumstances in one of the darkest periods in human existence. I feel like I’d cry while reading this and would need to emotionally prepare myself before I read this

  • Debra Roberts

    I am not a reader, but could see how compelling this book could be and a tear-jerker too. I wish I liked to read.. I bought a Kindle a few months ago, so perhaps this is a good one to start with since your review was so thought-provoking!

  • College Apps Abroad

    In college I took a class on the Holocaust, and it turned out to be my favorite one. Since then I’ve been watching movies, documentaries and reading books about it, but I haven’t come across this one yet. Will check it out!

  • Stephanie S

    I really enjoyed your book review. I was actually looking for a new book to read soon, and I think I will check this book out if they have it at my local library. I love when I come across a great book review, it really helps me decide whether I should look into reading that particular book. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Stella

    I am so glad to have read this review because I was on the fence about this book and it keeps popping up everywhere. I am usually wary about very popular contemporary fiction because that doesn’t necessarily agree with my own tastes. I admit I was wrong before, but… This sounds like a good, solid review and I agree, I can already tell that it will be a great movie!

  • Melanie williams

    I need to read this…such a good review and my nana would have loved this read. This is going at the top of my list xxx

  • Kat

    Interesting to hear your perspective on this book. Sometimes a story doesn’t connect with us as much as it does with others, I’ve definitely felt like this before. I’m sure it’s hard to draw very vivid characters when there is so much else going on in the setting – this can take over in a way. Still, would be an interesting read.

  • Smita

    Interesting review Erica. These days it feels like nearly every book is praised over the top on social media and it’s really difficult to get an honest opinion on them! Found your review very refreshing. Holocaust is a heavy subject, even as a backdrop to a ‘true story’. It’s also a topic often writers use to add some depth to their work when there is none in their story. Feels a little the case here. I’d prefer the characters to have the depth and the backdrop to add context.
    Nonetheless, I’m intrigued enough to try it out and then form an opinion.

  • Amy Blair

    This book sounds pretty intense. I’m sure I would cry, just as I always get teary-eyed reading or watching anything about the Holocaust survivors. And that is definitely what they are…survivors!

  • Britt K

    I have heard SO much about this book and, as you described, it has really been building the anticipation and expectations. That being said, I’m disappointed to hear that the character development wasn’t there the way that it could have been. As far as books go, that’s a personal pet peeve. You want to connect with the characters, and you can’t do that if you aren’t given the opportunity to REALLY get to know them. That being said, it still sounds like it’s totally worth the read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Chloé Arnold

    This book has been on my bucket list for so long!! I kind of forgot about it. Just redownloaded it onto my kindle! Thanks for the reminder- I’m so excited to dive in now!

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