My Review: UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

My Review:

Quite a departure from all the YA reads that have been stacked up on my dresser and bookcase for the past 2 years, this book was a loaner and recommended read from a co-worker.

And I can honestly say, it was an absolutely amazing, amazing story.

It's almost unthinkable what Louis Zamperini endures throughout the pages of this novel - and on too many occasions I pondered how one person could survive such an ordeal at all. Bringing me to tears too many times to count, Zamperini's story breached enough emotional distress to fill a thousand peoples lives. From his survival at sea after his plane went down, with harrowing tales of shark attacks, lack of food and water (literally having to sit still for hours to snag birds that would land on the raft), several missed US search planes that simply couldn't see the raft as they flew over them, and then, only to be finally spotted by none other than a Japanese aircraft, who proceeded to attack the men with a spray of bullets, pass after pass (amazingly, not one of the men were injured). And as if that all wasn't enough, after more than 40 days adrift at sea and finally making landfall some 2,000 miles from where their plane went down, their only reward was to be captured by the Japanese.

What Louis endured next would easily shatter anyone's soul, and yet, just like the title of the book, he somehow remained unbroken. Through the shared journey of he, his friends, and even the guards at the POW camps, I realized for myself how difficult the true undertone of this book would be for me, considering everything that occurred - forgiveness. Yet somehow throughout it all, Louis found it within himself to do so.

Highly recommended read - and I'd love to hear anyone else's take, as well.

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