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Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Author: Heather Morris
Star Rating: 5/5
I give this book 5 stars out of a possible 5. It is a heartbreaking page turner of a book about life in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Despite the depressing premise, hope fuels both the book and the two main characters to their eventual fate.
What It’s About
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the life of Lale Sokolov. This book starts at the beginning in the year 1942, when Sokolov surrenders himself to the Germans. He sacrifices himself in the hope that his family — his parents, sisters, and brothers — will be safe. The book starts with him shoved inside a cattle car with hundreds of other prisoners, all of them bound — though unknown to them — for Auschwitz.
Upon arriving in Auschwitz, Sokolov notes the infamous inscription at the entrance of the camp — Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes You Free). But Sokolov is no ordinary prisoner. He can speak multiple languages, so he is able to listen and understand what the Nazis order them to do in the camps.
After a near death encounter, however, Sokolov is saved by the tattooist in the camp. He then becomes the next tattooist, tattooing the inmates’ prison numbers onto their arms. It is a job that he hates doing, but one that ultimately helps him and his fellow prisoners to survive. Soon, he is able to use his privileged position to smuggle jewels and other valuables out of the camp in exchange for something more valuable — food and medicine.
He also finds love in the camp in the form of a fellow prisoner. His love for this woman — combined with his privileged position — helps him to ultimately avoid the gas chambers and certain death. His love for this woman what saves him as it gives him the motivation and willpower to survive one of the deadliest concentration camps in human history.
Why You Should Read
One major theme in this book is the power of love. It shows how sometimes love, in even the most desperate and horrible situations, can help us to prevail. It shows us how sometimes love can help us get through difficult journeys. That, and sheer will power and loads of luck, is how people can potentially survive the one of the most awful concentration camps.
This book is also a testament to what happened during World War II. It is a testament to what happened in Auschwitz, joining other famous works such as Night by Eli Wiesel or The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Like Wiesel and Frank, Sokolov suffered during those long years in the camp. All of these people should be remembered. All of these lives that were taken were a horrible loss. We should read this book (and others) to make sure that this never happens again.
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See also: My book review from last week