Originally published in Library Journal, August 2018.
Originally intended as a screenplay, this compelling debut historical fiction novel is based upon the life of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew imprisoned for almost three years at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he served as the tattooist. Soon after Lale, 25, arrives at Birkenau, he contracts typhus and is left for dead. He is rescued by fellow inmates and Pepan, an older French man and tattooist. Pepan teaches Lale the trade, which along with fluency in six languages, allows Lale privileges of a single room and extra food. Lale’s sole mission is to survive the unbelievable horrors and live to see another day outside the camp. Then he meets young Gita, and his mission changes to surviving and marrying Gita. Despite surroundings of bleakness and death, Lale and Gita’s passionate love blooms in the precious, miniscule moments alone. Lale’s story is heartbreaking, yet hopeful. Readers will root for him despite many setbacks to his survival. An afterword by Gary Sokolov, Lale and Gita’s son, further demonstrates his parents’ unbreakable bond of love and survival against unfathomable evil. VERDICT: Recommended for historical fiction & memoir fans for its unforgettable Holocaust story told from the unique perspective through the eyes of the tattooist of Auschwitz.
I’ve always loved historical fiction, especially WWII-era fiction. I can’t get enough of it!
Below, in no particular order (because I love them all so dearly), is a list of some of my favorite historical fiction books.
WWII era Historical Fiction Favorites
- The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
- Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
- The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg
- Letters to the Lost by Iona Gray
- Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
- The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
- The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen
- The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna
- Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
- Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
- The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons
- The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
- Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
- Mischling by Affinity Konar
Other Historical Fiction Favorites (not WWII era)
- The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
- The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
- Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
- The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Please let me know in the comments if you have any favorites that I have not mentioned. I would love to add them to my TBR pile!