Monday, September 30, 2019

The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris)

Heather Morris's The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a book about survival in the most unfathomable conditions. But even through the darkness, this is a true story of unending love and a sense of hope.

Lale Sokolov is a Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942. Because he speaks multiple languages, Lale is given the job of tattooist, moving back and forth between camps to tattoo numbers on incoming prisoners. This job is considered "privileged," and Lale uses this advantage to obtain food for his fellow prisoners.

It is as he is tattooing her arm that he first meets Gita. Lale and Gita hide their love by sneaking around the camp, and Lale will do anything he has to do to protect the love of his life. He vows that both of them will survive and ultimately marry. I found my heart pounding during the last few chapters to see if Lale's vow would come to fruition. The ending is all the more harrowing as you know it is based on fact.

If I were to find fault with anything in this book, it would be the writing at times. There wasn't a whole lot of depth to it, and much of it was written like "He did this..." and then "She did that...". However, the true story speaks for itself and perhaps the author was hesitant to embellish. I'm glad she told this story, as it was one that needed to be told.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? (Caitlin Doughty)

It wasn't planned to be Caitlin Doughty week on 1776 Books, but somehow it's turned out to be just that. On Sunday, I reviewed her earlier book, From Here to Eternity, and today, I'll talk about her very latest, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

What's great about Doughty is that she has the utmost respect for death but writes about it in such a warm, relatable way. As a mortician, her goal has always been to get families and friends involved in the funeral process instead of just handing their loved one off to a funeral director. In Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, Doughty again tries to take the "scary" out of death, answering kids' questions about the topic in an honest way.

But don't let the fact that kids are asking the questions deter you -- this is a super interesting book for adults. If you've ever wondered if conjoined twins always die at the same time or if you died making a silly face, would it stay like that forever, this book is for you. I found Doughty's writing absolutely fascinating, especially when combined with Dianne Ruz's black-and-white illustrations. I can't recommend this book enough!


Monday, September 9, 2019

Those People (Louise Candlish)

Louise Candlish's Our House was one of my favorite books that I read and reviewed last year. In my review, I said that "Candlish wrote every word for a reason, and by the time you get to the heart-stopping conclusion, you understand exactly how the dominoes started to fall from the very first page." Unfortunately, there is not as much excitement in her latest, Those People.

Just as in Our House, Those People takes place in everyday suburbia and begins when a couple moves in to an established neighborhood. This couple is a nightmare -- playing music at unbearable levels, running a car business from their house, and just causing general mayhem for their neighbors. When two deaths occur, one very unexpected, the neighbors are questioned and some become suspects.

On the surface, this premise sounds interesting, and believe me, it starts out strong. But the middle gets bogged down with too many details, and this makes the book seem very long. While I raced to the end of Our House to find out what happened, Those People was one that I was glad to finish.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death (Caitlin Doughty)

As a mortician and the founder of the Order of the Good Death, Caitlin Doughty has made a name for herself in the funeral industry. Some funeral directors even consider her a troublemaker because she contradicts their message. No, you do not need the $20,000 steel casket and vault to bury your loved one, and the more involved that families are in the death process itself, the more they will heal.

The latter is part of the focus of Doughty's book From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death. She argues that only in some parts of the world (mostly the USA) do people fear the dead. In other cultures, the traditions of taking care of the dead are much different. All of the traditions she talks about have something in common though: They allow people to personally take care of their dead instead of leaving it solely in the hands of funeral directors.

I've always been interested in this whole topic and learn so much from Caitlin Doughty, especially from her You Tube videos. Her blunt but warm manner in her videos and her fascinating style of writing in her books takes the "scary" out of the death industry.