“If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day.”
April 1942, Lale Sokolov, A Slovakian Jew is being transported to the concentration camp Auschwitz. On discovery that he speaks several languages, he is quickly put to work as the Tätowierer; permanently marking his fellow prisoners, as well as the love of his life, number 34902. Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses the most terrible acts of human cruelty – but also those of bravery and kindness.
It isn’t easy to write a review for this novel. On the one hand, it’s heartbreaking, compelling and utterly touching. On the other hand, the writing style lacks depth and complexity.
So let’s start with the story of Lale himself. His story is in one word astonishing; everything he has gone through, it blows my mind. He not only experiences the most dreadful things; he fights for justice, in a way not everyone would probably consider “right”, as he works for the Nazi’s. However, having this job also allowed him to save his fellow prisoners; a fact that should count more than the one mentioned before. Lale honestly is a hero in disguise.
Now before we start discussing the rest of the book, let me quickly mention that any comments made only concern the way in which his story is has been put on paper, and not Lale as a person.
This novel is based on the story of Lale, and should thus be considered as historical-fiction. The writer, Heather Morris, also states this at the end of the book; and explains she has created the dialogue, thoughts, and part of the atmospheric scenery herself. However, I found this to be quite lacking in depth. The conversations are simple, we don’t get to see or experience much of Lale beyond his actions, and there isn’t much scenery building. Of course, it would not have been easy to come up with Lale’s words, to explain the thoughts that must have been racing through his mind, or to describe the horrendous surroundings he lived in, but doing so might have helped the story; and would’ve made it even more powerful. I do have to add though, that the pictures of Lale and Gita at the end of the book, did help in adding more depth to the story; but I’d rather have seen them throughout the whole story instead of all at the end.
Would I not recommend you to pick up this novel because of the lacking writing-style? No. Lale’s story is compelling, and one that everyone should read. However, be warned for the amateurish feel this book has.
- Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
- Author: Heather Morris
- Published: 2018
- Pages: 252
- Rating: 4/5
- Get your copy here!