Hello Reviews! Unbroken

A WWII story of drowning, starving, beating, and cleaning latrines.

As the sub-title states, Unbroken is a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption.  When I downloaded this book, all I knew about it was:

  1. My sister and father already read it (opinions I like)
  2. It was written by the same woman who did Seabiscuit (a movie I like)
  3. It took place during World War II (a literary genre I like)

My UofM Alumni eBook club wanted to read this last fall, but we had just finished The Book Thief (one of my new FAVORITE books) and wasn’t in the mood for another WWII story.  So I stuffed it in my Goodreads “to-read” shelf and moved on to more happy stories.  BIG MISTAKE!!

I finally decided to attach this 500 pager after New Years and I could not put it down.  It took me 3 weeks to read, which may sound long to my friend Kat, but is light speed for me in a Nonfiction novel.  Unbroken moves incredibly fast and keeps you dying to turn more pages and hear what will happen to Louis Zamperini next.  From the very beginning, you are plopped in the middle of his true story, where Louie and friends are stranded on a raft at sea fighting off sharks and Japanese fighter pilots.  Then you jump back to Louie’s childhood and follow his epic journey through school, running, the Olympics, Air Force training, combat bombardier-ing, planes going down, rafts coming up, life at sea, life in internment camps, life in POW camps, life after the war, depression, resilience, religion, recovery, and finally … today.

That is more than enough content for a DOZEN novels!  But Laura Hillenbrand does an amazing job of capturing it all as we readers effortlessly plow through the decades of his life.  I knew nothing of this book when I picked it up, and I feel like I know more about this man than most of my friends and family.  You literally feel all of Louie’s emotions right beside him as you read … quite the powerful impact.

Af for the downsides of this book … it is long (and at times definitely feels it).  One point of feedback for Hillenbrand is to tell us not only what happens to Louie, but more on how he feels about it.  At times it just seems like a punching bag taking hit after hit, but how is it that Louie got through all this?  Having a bit more depth into his mental resilience as well as physical would sell better.  At times, it even seems impossible to have occurred the way it did (fighting off sharks over and over with his bare hands? Oooooooooooooooook).  Lastly, I would have loved to know more about his late years in life.  I had to go online just to find out he was still alive at the time of publishing (and still is today).

Great book, great read.  Highly recommend it for anyone out there that enjoy a good nonfiction piece (that reads like fiction).  What has two digital thumbs pointed up for Unbroken?  Hello Neiman!

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