Title: The Map of Us
Author: Jules Preston
Publication date: 4th May 2018
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
The Map of Us tells the story of Tilly North, a statistician whose marriage is falling apart which she tries to repair through numbers, and her grandmother Violet North, abandoned by her family due to a long and difficult illness. The relationship between grandmother and granddaughter is bound by an old blue typewriter and a series of unfinished children’s books that Tilly is about to discover.
It’s not often that I come across a book with such a distinct style of writing so I was pleasantly surprised with the choppy and quirky narrative. However, it wasn’t quite for me; the story line was monotonous and the characters too flat for my liking.
Around halfway into the book the reader starts to understand the direction the story is following and the characters’ plot lines begin to intertwine. I enjoyed Tilly’s story and the Compatibility Index that she ultimately designs to explain why her marriage is failing. Looking back, I also think that the author revealed the link between Tilly and Violet in a very clever way and it was a joy following Tilly in her adventure to pursue her grandmother’s tales.
This was an uplifting and inspiring book and I wish that I was more patient at the start rather than rushing to understand from the beginning how the characters are connected. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for something different and is able to look past the short chapters and unconventional writing style.
Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Author: Heather Morris
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication date: 11th January 2018
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
After being forced into Auschwitz, young Lale Sokolov is instructed to undertake one of the most mentally challenging jobs of tattooing the five digit numbers on fellow prisoners who are seized from their homeland. Here he meets Gita and is determined to escape the horrid place with her by his side at whatever cost.
This was an incredibly difficult book to put down despite how harrowing and complex the subject matter is. Perhaps what makes it even more challenging is the knowledge from the start that it tells the true story of Lale, a survivor of Auschwitz, and that all the difficulties he faced as the tattooist were real. It may be a horrifying story but the overwhelming themes of courage, loyalty and the willingness to survive are present throughout making the book truly gripping.
Apart from the strong willed character of Lale, this book also manifests similar strong traits through the hardships that Gita and Cilka lived through, from disease to malnutrition to abuse. The writing is very matter-of-fact and the author doesn’t delve much into the characters emotions, yet as the event of Auschwitz unfold, the reader is able to interpret the mixture of feelings experienced in such a confinement.
I am pleased that I decided to read this novel after much doubt. It is important that stories like Lale’s are retold and reconstructed so the horrors of war are not forgotten and are avoided. What made this book stand out from others in this genre was the brilliant way that the author gave Lale a voice and retold his story with honesty, proving how sincere relationships can form even in the most extreme situations. Everyone must read this book, regardless of the intricacy it boasts, to fully appreciate the buried memoirs of many prisoners that are finally being unearthed.