Thursday 17 January 2019

The Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris Book Review

This is a book I've been waiting to read for such a long time. I almost bought it a few times over the last few months but 1. I already had a ridiculous amount of books to get through first and 2. I had a feeling it was one of my Christmas presents. Luckily it was, and I got stuck in straight away, to then finish it less than 48 hours later because I just couldn't stop reading once I started.
flatlay - The Tattooist of Auschwitz book, star candle holder
'I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart. 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 this woman, Gita, did too. So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.'

My review

The subject of Auschwitz has fascinated me since school. I always looked forward to history lessons and it was something I always wanted to find out more about despite it being such a truly awful thing. I remember getting so involved in lessons about it, so this book was always going to be a must read for me. Told by Heather Morris, this is a book about Lale and Gita who meet at a concentration camp. It's love at first sight so what follows is a story of how true love can overcome anything and how humanity can be found even in the worst circumstances.

My first thought after finishing this book was how well Heather had handled such a sensitive topic. I'm almost struggling writing this review because I don't feel anything I can say can do it justice and how do you talk about such a thing that happened to so many people? To me, it was clear that much thought had gone into how best to approach this and that it was done in a way that was respectful to the people involved, but gave enough detail for us to really understand. I thought Heather's writing style was great, in that the book was very easy to follow from the very start, despite there been times where narrative changed from one person to another. It all flowed seamlessly. Her writing also really allows for you to build the story up as you go along and I found I could really clearly picture everything. Almost like a film playing out in my head.

I also thought Heather was great in building up tension in certain moments and at times I felt I was holding my breath, just waiting for something to go wrong, despite knowing that somehow it all ends up okay in the end. I was still always wondering how Lale and Gita were ever going to get themselves out of this situation, it was absolutely heart-wrenching at times. Even more so, because all I could think when reading was 'this actually happened, this was real life'. You could feel their love for one another and you just can't possibly imagine how it must have felt at the time for them both to not know how they could just survive, let alone be together. Though at times, this was a tough read, I feel like I've learnt so much. Though everyone knows the horror of the Holocaust, I still at times found myself so shocked at some of the things that happened, I just couldn't comprehend how humans could ever be so cruel to one another.

I think The Tattooist Of Auschwitz is a book everyone should read. The love story of Lale and Gita is told so sensitively, Heather has just done a brilliant job and was clearly very invested in making this the best it could be for everyone involved, it fully deserves all of the recognition it's getting. Stories like Lale's are so important and need to be told. We need to be the ones to share their stories so something like this can never be forgotten and can be never be allowed to happen again and I think books like this are the perfect way. I actually really hope it gets made into a film in the near future (I think it was originally intended to just be a movie), I think it would translate to screen beautifully and it would be a great way of getting this incredible story of love, friendship and hope out to a wider and younger audience.

This was the first book I read in 2019 but I already think it's going to be a hard one to beat. I have a feeling it's going to stick with me for a very long time.

Have you read The Tattooist Of Auschwitz?

Other book reviews - Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews // The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet

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