Genre: Creative Nonfiction
Rating: 5.0/5.0 stars
Main Takeaway: A moving account of love and war that will make you feel hope and happiness alongside fear and despair. Must read.
*I received this novel from the publisher, Harper Collins, in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for this review, and the opinions expressed were not influenced by this transaction.*
In 1942, Lale Solokov, a Slovakian Jew, is taken to Auschwitz and forced to work and to witness the atrocities inside those deadly gates. Always striving for a better lot, Lale quickly becomes the tatoweirer of Auschwitz, charged with the terrible but respected task of tattooing numbers onto prisoners’ arms. Using his privileged position in the camp, he acquires gems and money to trade for food, which he shares secretly around the camp. One day, he tattoos the arm of a fellow prisoner, Gita, and he falls irrevocably in love, and Lale’s quest for survival becomes his quest for his and Gita’s love and survival.
This short account of the real experiences of Lale Solokov, based on interviews with him, is necessary reading. Morris does a phenomenal job of uplifting the reader with this love story and with Lale’s steadfast determination to survive, and at the same time of reminding the reader of the true atrocities in which Lale and Gita lived. Some of the scenes in The Tattooist of Auschwitz are tough to read, they are terrifying and real. But what Morris is really writing about is the ability of love to triumph over hate, to provide hope, and to help us survive a terrible world. This story of love and survival is hauntingly beautiful, and a quick, absorbing read for those who love historical fiction and for those who love love.