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Book Review… The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Length: 293 pages

Publisher: Zaffre


I think it’s fair to say there had been a lot of hype around this book. It was one of the best selling books of 2018 and I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a long time. But does it live up to expectations?

In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure the woman, Gita, did, too.

‘ “What do you mean? She’s not a hero.”Gita said with some annoyance. “She just wants to live.” “And that makes her a hero. You too, my darling. That the two of you have chosen to survive is a type of resistance to the Nazi bastards. Choosing to live is an act of defiance. A form of heroism.” ‘

The first half of this book is disappointing to say the least. This book is set in a harrowing time, and it’s like this book forgets to mention it. I mean, obviously it doesn’t, but it mentions the ordeals the prisoners have to go through infrequently and flippantly. The second half of the book doesn’t get any better. It still glosses over one of the worst times in history. I just can’t believe you end up reading a love story.

I know the book is based on a true story, but it’s like the whole thing has been romanticised. Maybe it’s me? Maybe I didn’t expect to be reading a love story. In my opinion it’s not even a very good one. And I feel bad saying that because it’s a true story.

I certainly don’t like the way the book is written. Such a powerful subject is dealt with so carelessly. It almost become trivial. The book needed more depth, more grit. If need more details, this book felt hurried. That’s largely to do with how it’s written. Also, for the main character to have such a different imprisonment to the other prisoners didn’t help. It made this book miss the mark even more.

Well, for me this book certainly didn’t live up to my expectations. It felt like a wasted opportunity, however a lot of people have loved this book so maybe still pick this one up and give it a read. Comment and let me know.

Until the next review


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