The Tattooist of Auschwitz [Book Review]

October 12, 2018

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Tattooist of Auschwitz 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Holocaust, WW11, Jewish


Based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who meet at Auschwitz, this is a story of the determination to survive, hope, sacrifice, courage, and love. Lale is assigned to tattoo identification numbers onto the prisoner’s arms as they arrive in camp, and this is where he first meets Gita. This assignment gives him some privileges such as a bit of freedom and some extra food which he shares with the most desperate prisoners as he is able. His actions are extremely risky but he is able to save the lives of many prisoners. In the course of his time at camp, he falls deeply in love with Gita, and he is determined to ensure her survival as well. After liberation, Lale and Gita marry, have one son, and establish a home in Australia. They live a private life, and it is after Gita dies that Lale chooses to tell his memorable story.

Amazon Rating (October): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’ve read a great deal of WW11 historical fiction. Each story is as compelling as the next. All the stories need to be heard. What makes The Tattooist of Auschwitz even more compelling is that the author was able to spend three years interviewing Lale Sokolov.

Despite being caught in a desperate and heartbreaking situation, Lale is able to survive in the camp because of his pleasant and positive personality, his sheer determination to live, his cunning and courage, and his remarkable attitude. Throughout this compelling story, Lale takes risks, makes sacrifices, and generously shares what he can to help others. Lale’s personality reminded me a little of Pino’s positive attitude in Beneath a Scarlet Sky.

A page turner, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is written in a straightforward way and in a simple story telling style. Its tone is lighter in comparison to some other Holocaust stories I’ve read (although there are obviously some sad passages).

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is recommended for fans of WW11 historical fiction, for readers who appreciate fictionalized  versions of true stories, and for those who enjoy an unforgettable character and an unputdownable story filled with courage and hope.

Here’s a brief YouTube video clip of Lale The Tattooist of Auschwitz in his own words.

***EDIT to ADD: Heather Morris has received criticism of her research for this book, and you can find one review here. I did not read this critique until after I had read and reviewed the book. I’m letting my review stand, but I want to include this review for perspective.

Several years ago I visited the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, CA and was privileged to hear a Holocaust survivor give her talk. It was memorable and unforgettable. I hope that you can hear a similar first hand account if you haven’t already.

My Rating: 4 Stars (3 stars for writing, 5 stars for a compelling story, themes, and memorable character)


tattooist of auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz Information Here

Meet the Author, Heather Morris

Heather MorrisHeather Morris is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia. For several years, while working in a large public hospital in Melbourne, she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US. In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives. Their friendship grew and Lale embarked on a journey of self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.


Do you read frequently in the WW11 histfic genre? Even though I love the genre, it’s not easy reading and can take an emotional toll. 
Have you read The Tattooist of Auschwitz or is it on your TBR?

Happy Reading Book Worms!

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My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!

Looking Ahead:

I’m reading and will reviewing Becoming Mrs. Lewis next week.

becoming mrs lewis

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  1. I somehow missed this review, Carol! It’s terrific! I enjoyed this book, too. Definitely a different perspective on the Holocaust. I hope you are enjoying Becoming Mrs. Lewis. Harry’s Trees was also enjoyable, and I’m reading The Rain Watcher very soon, too! Happy reading!

    • Thank you for your kind words Jennifer! Each Holocaust perspective is certainly unique and heartbreaking. I’m working on a review for Becoming Mrs Lewis this week. Started on Rain Maker but got distracted by Louisana’s Way Home. So many good books, so little time!

      • Ahh, I can see how Louisiana would distract, and I’ve heard that Rain is a little slower paced. Yes, I never tire of the different voices and perspectives on the Holocaust. I will always keep reading and listening.

      • Yes to the important work of reading and listening. Yep….I started Rain Watcher and then my library hold of Louisiana came in and I was hooked from page one!

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