Book Review: The Tattooist by Heather Morris
The Tattooist is a historical fiction based on a true story. It has over 21,000 ratings and over 1,500 reviews on Goodreads. It’s also The Sunday Times (British newspaper) best seller.
Lale is a young Slovakian Jewish man who finds himself in Auschwitz, a detention camp run by the Germans. Not long after, he becomes the ‘Tatowierer’ -tattooist. Forced to scratch numbers into his fellow victim’s arms, he keeps his head down and gets on. When Gita hands him a piece of paper with her numbers, he falls in love. This was the start of their relationship.
Becoming a tattooist came with perks for Lale. His own room meant he could stretch his legs and have extra rations, which he ended up sharing. He knew he was lucky and if he stuck to the rules he would survive.
He used his freedom to collect jewellery and money, taken from murdered Jews. He would exchange them for food to keep others alive. He kept chocolate aside to give to Gita’s Kapo, the person in charge of the block Gita was being held. In exchange for spending some alone time with her.
This was a story of two people destined to survive and be together. Through hardship, pain, grief and of course love. It had sprinkles of happy moments, enough to keep you going until the next sad bit. Some of the parts were horrific and that’s expected because of the nature of this story.
There was a bit in the middle, where I stopped feeling sorry for the Gita and her friends. They showed no sympathy for new arrivals at the camp, young girls in the same shoes as them. Lale himself came across as a kind, selfless character with a good heart. I felt he was genuine and cared for all the people he met and crossed paths with. But, the girls only cared about their own little circle.
Both Lale and Gita were staunch supporters of a movement to establish a Jewish state in Israel. Especially Gita who would collect money from wealthy locals and arrange for it to taken out.
Overall, it was an informative read and the author has done a fantastic job telling the story.