This tragic but uplifting story follows a Slovakian man’s story in the concentration camp of Auschwitz and his love for another prisoner.
“If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day”
Lale is Slovakian and arrives in the camp with no idea what to expect – after electing himself to go to the camp after he is told that one member of his family has to volunteer. He is lucky and becomes the tattooist and is valued a little more than other prisoners, managing to get more food and distribute it to others in need.
The job of the tattooist is something that is not often thought about but is an extremely harrowing and emotional job. He labels millions of newcomers, taking away their identity and leaving them with a number. When he falls in love with a girl he inks, his determination to survive in the camp is intensified. All the characters Lale meets, which come and go mean you learn a lot about the cruelty of it. You learn both about the SS workers and the other prisoners Lale ‘lived’ with. The reason I put ‘lived’ in brackets is that you come to realise that it wasn’t really living, dying was the best option for some.
The book is a reminder of the awful time and the evilness of it. What happens is unimaginable and unbearable, but I think it is so important, for those who died, to know and understand what went on. This story holds so much emotion and just following one out of millions of prisoners creates you to have more of an emotional connection to his story.
It was also extremely gripping. It was written so simply but effectively, you felt he was telling you his story himself. I could not bear to put it down and if I did it never left me, and I don’t think it ever will. It is extremely thought-provoking and the fact it is a true story makes it even more amazing and truly unbelievable.
Lales' love, Gita, is a woman in the camp who goes through equally awful situations and the love they have for each other is so amazing and inspirational. The novel is although equally saddening, not exceptionally graphic making it suitable for teenagers. It has some really heart-wrenching bits and you really get to know Lale. He firmly believed and told himself every day that he would leave the camp alive, with Gita, and have a family and they would be free people.
The book really puts your own problems into perspective, and completely makes you grateful for everything you’ve got.
Overall, it is a truly emotional and amazing read which is completely true. It is totally shocking and one of those books which ones you have finished you are left totally perplexed.
I would recommend it to ages 14/15+