I have always kinda struggled with audio books, something which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. I struggle to get into the book when I can’t see the words dancing on the page with my very own eyes. I can’t ‘zone out’ and focus on the story because I’m also concentrating on a gazillion other things. For some reason though, I managed to stick with The Tattooist Of Auschwitz, written by Heather Morris (and narrated in this instance by Richard Armitage).
The Tattooist Of Auschwitz is based on a true story, a real man with these very real experiences of one of the most horrific pieces of human history. His name is Lale (pronounced La-lay, which I only know thanks to the audiobook), and this is effectively his story of how he survived for years in somewhere where he was destined to die. How, in the face of such horrific adversity, he found love, friendship and kindness. A tale of camaraderie and heartbreak like no other.
It is clear to see why this book was such a hit (yes I realise that I was late onto this bandwagon, but the book is still in the charts in WH Smith!).
Not only is the story eye-opening, heart wrenching and incredible, but the book itself is beautifully written. It is honest, yet tasteful. It takes the reader along on a rollercoaster of emotions. It is a stark and brutal reminder of the reality of places like Auschwitz, and the horrors that humans can inflict upon other humans – something which we are largely sheltered from in this generation in this part of the world.
What The Tattooist Of Auschwitz offers is a unique perspective of the holocaust. We don’t hear many stories of what it was like to live and work in the concentration camps for obvious reasons – not many people had the opportunity to live to see the end of the war. While we all know and understand that the holocaust and concentration camps (and everything associated with war, let’s be honest) are horrible, terrible things that should never be repeated, to actually have your headspace thrown right there into Auschwitz puts a whole new spin on things.
I recommended this book to somebody not long after finishing it and they said that they didn’t want to read it because they weren’t interested in ‘a sad book’. I understand why they – or you – might think that. Just look at the title, look at that one word which strikes fear and sadness and anger into our hearts just by existing. Auschwitz. The truth is, though, that while The Tattooist Of Auschwitz is a heartbreaking book, it’s not a sad story. It’s heartbreaking because the story was a reality for so many people, and as is acknowledged by Lale he was perhaps one of the lucky ones depending on how you look at it.
I’ve seen people calling for this to be made into a movie, and while I understand that that’s just the modern mindset, I’m not sure that I agree with it. Not every good book needs to hit the silver screen. I fear that the people behind the movie would somehow twist or glamorise the story, as so often happens with movies and TV shows to make them ‘good viewing’. The power in this story is from it’s rawness, and while a movie would inevitably bring this very important story to a wider audience I think that it might lose a lot of it’s power along the way.
In conclusion I would say that The Tattooist Of Auschwitz is probably the first 5 star book that I’ve got my (metaphorical) hands on in a long time. I’d love to get my hands on a physical copy of the book and read it with my own eyes at my own pace and truly get absorbed in the story. I have the audiobook for the sequel – Cilka’s Journey – which was released about a month after I finished The Tattooist Of Auschwitz so I’m excited to get stuck into it too.
If you haven’t already been swept up by the hype, I thoroughly recommend trying to get your hands on a copy in whatever format you prefer as in this instance the hype is definitely worth it.
I’m slowly getting back into Goodreads, if any of you want to be friends over there… https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/11937354-kirsty