Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life by Tommy Schnurmacher Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Tommy Schnurmacher takes readers on an emotional journey using wit, charm, and a warmth rarely seen in the darkness that was WWII and the Holocaust as he shares stories of his mother Olga as a survivor of the Concentration Camps and his own life growing up learning these of these stories in his book, “Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life”. 


The Synopsis

Tommy Schnurmacher has written a book that could change your life. It changed his. As a writer, Montreal media icon Schnurmacher is an intense force of nature, a seismic swell of visceral empathy, laser-sharp wit and courageous self-analysis. Now meet Olga. Auschwitz prisoner A-25057, aka Mom, A fearless, dramatic and unpredictable maverick. An original. Exposing the souls of a family for all to see, Make-up Tips from Auschwitz is an addictive page-turner. Schnurmacher’s voice resonates with a lyrical cadence all his own and an unsettling candor reminiscent of humorist David Sedaris and essayist Augusten Burroughs. Like the Oscar-winning film, Life is Beautiful, Schnurmacher revisits the Holocaust with rays of light in the darkness. Sparkling with chutzpah and charm, this is a story of a family’s cultural collision and delightful dysfunction. With the growing pains of Shtisel, the earthiness of The Simpsons and the fierce family loyalty of The Sopranos, these newcomers from Hungary defy authority. They figured out early on that conventional values were not enough. It was their moxie that allowed them to succeed Schmooze with the passing parade that includes John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor and Crystal Nacht. You will laugh out loud as you meet a cast of supporting characters who redefine eccentric: the 50-minute therapist, the psychic rabbi and a superstitious hypochondriac named Paris. Once you get to know these mutineers from the mainstream, you will want to organize an intervention. Or at least a Passover Seder. 

The Review

This was such a moving and captivating read. The author did an incredible job of bringing warmth and heart into this nonfiction memoir that blended reflections of his mother’s life experiences with his own. The honesty and charm with which the author shares these moments felt both humorous and emotional in their delivery. In one moment, we learn of how the author’s mother lived and survived Auschwitz and later how they all escaped the Hungarian Revolution, and in the next, the author shares a heartwarming bond the two shared over their love of Elizabeth Taylor. 

The way in which the author writes felt very witty and allowed the author to infuse some humor and heart into the memories and experiences that the author brought to the book. The writing also did a great job of making the experiences and memories very vivid and painted a sharp image in the reader’s mind, allowing readers to get a greater sense of the impact these experiences had on the author’s life. Add to that a level of history and culture that this narrative naturally brings to the forefront and this book was an instant hit in my book.

The Verdict

Brilliant, heartfelt, and engaging, author Tommy Schnurmacher’s “Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life” is a memorable and captivating nonfiction memoir. The inspiring and breathtaking way the author captures the childhood memories and the tales of his parents, in particular his mother, as she survived one of the world’s greatest horrors made this a stark balance of history and heartfelt family life that very few memoirs are able to fully capture themselves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Born in Budapest, Tommy Schnurmacher is a child of Holocaust survivors. An award-winning political pundit and broadcaster, he was the host of a highly-rated daily radio talk show in Montreal for more than 20 years. He spent a week with John and Yoko at the famous Montreal Bed-In for Peace. He covered the Academy Awards no less than 13 times and is proud to say that Meryl Streep once stepped on his foot in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Tommy is the author of a new memoir, Makeup Tips from Auschwitz. How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life.

What’s the book about? How his mom got two world-famous Nazis to save her life.


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