Midwest Book Mom Presents: The Tattooist of Auschwitz- Book Review
Book Rating: ★ ★ ★.5
“Save one, save the world,’ Lale says quietly, more to himself than the others.”
Lale Sokolov - The Tattooist of Auschwitz
In 1942, Lale Sokolov volunteered himself for transportation to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. He hoped by volunteering himself, this would protect his family from being taken. Through coincidence of pure luck, Lale accepts the position of Tatowierer (Tattooist), responsible for tattooing assigned numbers on all the inmates who came off the train cars. Men, women, and according to Lale’s account, older children. Lale was given extra benefits as Tatowierer, giving him the opportunity to secretly help others in need of food or security across the camps. One day, Lale is tattooing a line of women and he meets the love of his life, Gita. From that moment, Lale vows to live through these death camps and walk freely out the gates so he can marry Gita.
Heather Morris had the opportunity to sit with the real Lale Sokolov in Australia during the final years of his life. In the interview, Morris shared this in postscript, “He told his story piecemeal, sometimes slowly, sometimes at bullet pace and without clear connection between the many, many episodes.” Heather Morris is a screenwriter, and she admits so at the end of the book in her acknowledgments. Before I started this novel, I read comments from others slandering her writing style because she writes like a screenwriter…of course. Here’s my opinion on the matter.
This is a true story about a young man whose youth was disrupted by the corruption of humanity at its worst. Although I was not attached to the characters emotionally, like in Lilac Girls for example, I found myself drawn into the story. The mere knowledge of knowing these young people looked death in the face day after day consumed me. The Holocaust was one of the grimmest marks in human history and I applaud those who sit and write these unthinkable true events we’re reading today.
I do understand other statements commenting on how they liked the story but disliking the writing. The writing wasn’t my favorite but let’s remember this. The story was written and made “to present not a lesson in history, of which there are many, but a unique lesson in humanity.” I do agree the writing isn’t flawless. If it wasn’t for the postscript and the acknowledgments at the end of this book, I would have commented on how the story felt emotionally detached and written more like scenes. In her list of acknowledgements, she gives thanks to those who helped her with her writing.
Because writing is not a perfected craft...
It takes a tribe of supportive people to help and encourage writers to be brave in their vulnerability to share their works with the world. This is Heather’s debut novel. Obviously, people read the book, or it wouldn’t have been on New York Times Bestseller. When my debut novel is born, I’m sure people will take my novel behind the barn too, but if I’m on the New York Times Bestseller...I'm popping the bubbly.
Conclusion: Overall, I enjoyed Lale’s story more than Heather’s writing. I have seen she’s written a couple books after this one and I do plan on reading those in the future because honestly, I do like the story. There’s always room for growth when it comes to writing, but let’s remember this. The story is for us to remember Lale Solokov, the Slovakian Jew, the Tattooist of Auschwitz.
You can purchase Heather Morris' book on Amazon or at your local bookstore or public library.