Very quickly this book became difficult to read; the reason being that this is a true story about a real man who was forced to scar the bodied of people just like him, with a number that would become their only form of identity. Every part of this book really happened – & trust me, that’s very hard to swallow. Despite how much this book broke my heart, it also reassured me that things weren’t all bad for all of the people stuck in concentration camps, & that some were able to find happiness in small doses.
I was sent an eARC of this book by Zaffre in return for an honest review.
This book contains human suffering, Jewish & Romani slurs, rape, death & other war-related themes.
First of all, Lale Sokolov & his gorgeous Gita, are two very incredible people that should be household names; these two people defied the odds & managed to find happiness within one another, during possibly the most horrific part of Western history. Their story is heartbreaking, but also heartwarming & it made me cry a lot – is that really a surprise though? I cry over so many books, I know; but trust me, this one deserved the tears.
Secondly, I don’t review books like this in the same way I do other books; because, who am I to review the life stories of two people who survived something more horrendous than I could ever imagine? Instead, all I want to do is tell you how important this story is, how incredible its main characters are & how empowering it is to know that people were able to find some happiness whilst they were locked away in hell on Earth.
The story of The Tattooist of Auschwitz starts with Lale being taken to a concentration camp by the Nazis, it then tells us of how he nearly died of an illness but instead ended up working as a tattooist; scarring the arms of thousands upon thousands of people just like him. It tells the story of how Lale & Gita met, & fell in love within such unlikely surroundings, & how they both managed to keep themselves safe during their time within the camp. The story then goes on to tell us what happened to Lale & Gita when the camps were shut down, & whether they were able to survive the savageness of the Nazis in those final days. Within all of this though, truly horrific details of the concentration camp that is known as Auschwitz are revealed, including fields of naked & starving women, the inhumane violence, as well as the unimaginable starvation & hard work that the prisoners were forced to deal with. This story is so painfully honest & I hope that the film-script that Heather has written will be picked up by a big film company so that this story is accessible for a wider audience.
I’m glad I read this story because it’s an important one that deserves to be told, but I’m also glad because it has reassured me that all of the historical fiction I’ve read set in the concentration camps set up by the Nazis during World War 2 really could have been true – the reason I say this is because a lot of historical fiction show people stuck in places like Auschwitz finding ways to be happy, despite the horror of their situation, & in this true story the main characters did manage to find happiness in their dismal surroundings. And it is such a beautiful form of happiness; with true love & real strength. It’s honestly so inspiring.
Dearest Lale & Gita, Rest In Peace.
May your souls shine in our skies for all of eternity.
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