Review:The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

TatooistThe Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.

There have been many books about the Holocaust – and there will be many more. What makes this one so memorable is Lale Sokolov’s incredible zest for life. He understood exactly what was in store for him and his fellow prisoners, and he was determined to survive – not just to survive but to leave the camp with his dignity and integrity intact, to live his life to the full. Terrible though this story is, it is also a story of hope and of courage. It is also – almost unbelievably – a love story. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight, and he determined not only to survive himself but to ensure that Gita did, too. His story – their story – will make you weep, but you will also find it uplifting. It shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.

Review

I have read a number of books about the Holocaust and continue to learn something new with each read. In this case, I learned about tattooists. I hadn’t really thought about the numbering/marking of prisoners until I read this book. I also assumed that German soldiers would have been tasked with this. However, from this story, I learned about Lale and other prisoners who were tasked with tattooing new arrivals at the concentration camps.

Lale’s story is deeply moving and memorable. I can’t even begin to explain the horrors that he and others witnessed and experienced at Auschwitz. I admired how he was able to do so much for his fellow prisoners despite his own confinement. Lale heroism wasn’t only in saving lives; it was also in the little things that he did like being gentle when tattooing the prisoners.

This is a story of strength, survival and perseverance in one of the most horrendous times in history. The setting is tough, heart-wrenching and most of the events that take place in the book are horrifying. However, in the midst of all this, there is a story of love and humanity triumphing over adversity. This is memorable a story and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read Lale and Gita’s story

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I don’t even know what to say about The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Are there really enough words to explain just how amazing this book is? Are there words to describe the emotions evoked by the story? Anyway, if you haven’t yet read this beautiful book, read on and I will tell you about it. If you have read it already, I would love to hear your thoughts about it.

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Review
One thing that is quite unique and fascinating about this book is the narrator. This year I have come across a child narrator in Room by Emma Donoghue and a posthumous narrator in Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Now for the first time, I have met death as a narrator. Yes, this story is actually narrated by death who is personified.

 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusais is a story about a young girl, Liesel Meminger who ends up on Himmel Street after the death of her brother on a train. Liesel is adopted by a lovely couple, Rosa and Hans Hubermann. Himmel Street is a simple neighborhood where kids play soccer, everyone knows everyone on the street and in times of crisis, the neighbors’ stick together.Liesel’s father adores her. He is always at her bedside whenever she has nightmares. He was the one who taught her to read( and  roll cigarettes). I think it is also correct to say that he also taught her how to be human and how to love.

 
Liesel is the book thief, she starts by stealing a  gravedigger’s manual and then proceeds to steal another book from a Nazi book burning ceremony and after that, she steals from the mayor wife’s library. The little girl finds comfort and hope in the pages of the books that she reads. She uses these books to get through all situations.However, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is not just about the little girl living on Himmel Street. The setting of the book is Nazi German in 1939 as the holocaust takes place. One day, a Jew turns up at the Hubermann resident seeking refuge. Years before that, another Jew had saved Han Hubermann’s life at war and now Hans has a chance to save this young man. It was definitely risky for Hans and his family to hide the Jew. However, the family was really drawn to him and especially Liesel, she learned to love him like a brother.

 

“I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skills is their capacity to escalate.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

One thing that you need to know about this book is that it will break your heart. The final pages will leave you in a state of confusion. You will feel lost and like me, you may find yourself thinking about the whole story from the beginning to the end. You will grasp at the memories, trying to hold on to them to make them last longer. Although categorized as a YA, I think that this book is suitable for adults too.

 
The character development is done really well. I also loved the well defined relationship dynamics. In particular, I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Liesel and her father, Hans. I also loved the friendship between Rudy and Liesel. Death as a character is also quite….endearing.

 

8398761The Book Thief is definitely a moving story, one that I will never forget. There are many powerful scenes in the book. I think one of the most moving narrations is about Liesel and her encounter with Max when the Jews were being marched on the street. Another one was definitely the aftermath of the air raid on Himmel Street.

 

 

“Goodbye, Papa, you saved me. You taught me to read. No one can play like you. I’ll never drink champagne. No one can play like you.”
-Liesel”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

About the book
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Marcus Zasuk
Year of Publication: 2005
Pages: 584
Adaptation: The Book Thief movie (2013)
Number of Weeks on the New York’s Bestseller List: 230

 

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