Rawrrbecca Reads: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Historical Fiction / Published by Zaffre in 2018

Entrapment, punishment, war, love, determination

Lale Sokolov finds himself in a packed train catch on his way to Auschwitz. Little does he know, that upon arrival, he’ll find himself with a job of tattoowierer, and will fall in love with a fellow prisoner. 

Throughout the novel, we learn more and more about the conditions within the camp, the hierarchy, not only between soldiers but also between prisoners themselves, and witness some of the atrocities that take place there. Parts are harrowing, but it’s made palatable by the growing fondness between Lale and his fellow prisoner Gita. 

“Lale makes a vow to himself: I will live to leave this place. I will walk out a free man. If there is a hell, I will see these murderers burn in it.”

From the very subject alone, it’s quick to become engrossed in this book

I found this book on Goodreads and the summary there drew me in immediately. As soon as I started the book I covered a lot of ground quickly - that’s one thing to note, this isn’t a particularly long read and I found myself getting through it quite quickly. 

Sometimes the character had me raising my eyebrows - and not in a good way

I felt for Lale, I really did, but there were a lot of times where he seemed so arrogant, whether it be talking back to soldiers, or the sense of entitlement he seemed to have - the inflated confidence around women. 

This really let the book down for me, unfortunately. 

Desperation, confusion, distance

As the story develops, I felt more and more despair for the characters and their real-life counterparts. I won’t go into detail here, but there are a couple of events in the book which are horrific, and you feel completely helpless and dumbfounded that this actually happened, that humans can be so cruel.

“How can someone do this to another human being? He wonders if for the rest of his life, be it short or long, he will be defined by this moment, this irregular number: 32407.”

Despite this, I did find myself rooting for Lale and Gita, along with her friends in particular - Dana, and Cilka. I actually think there’s a sequel being released to tell Cilka’s story.

The ending, despite there being a glimmer of hope - no spoilers here - did feel rushed. It felt like the entire book had been leading up to this, only for it to be skimmed over in the last few pages.

It fell flat for me, despite the story. I wanted to love it but I didn’t.

The story told and the monstrous events that took place within the book need to be known, but unfortunately, the writing style and the main character’s ego ruined what I was hoping to be a great book.

I wouldn't recommend it, unfortunately - there’s also been some news articles stating that it isn’t factually accurate to the time period either, which is one of the main reasons I’d picked this up to begin with!