A Book Review by Naomi Downing
An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive
On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane 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 sagas of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he had been a clever delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and stealing. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a supreme talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war came, the athlete became 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 sinking raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would respond to desperation with ingenuity, suffering with hope and humor, brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would hang on the fraying wire of his will.
In this captivating young adult edition of her award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a man’s breathtaking odyssey and the courage, cunning, and fortitude he found to endure and overcome. Lavishly illustrated with more than one hundred photographs and featuring an exclusive interview with Zamperini, Unbroken will introduce a new generation to one of history’s most thrilling survival epics.
My thoughts: At first, my impression of this book was ‘it’s okay’. But as I kept reading, my opinion of the book changed too. There was a part of the book where it was a lot of information and the actual story was put on hold, I felt. I understand that the information was important though, so I guess I can’t complain… 🙂
By the end of the book, you could tell that I liked it. I’d tell whoever was around, usually my mom, random facts that I learned in the book. Like people can survive forty-seven days stranded on a raft. Or people in the Japanese military, at least during WWII I have no idea for right now, had to be able to kill people and leave no traces. (At one point, Louie Zamperini and all of the other POW’s in his camp had their dog tags taken away, to destroy evidence that they were ever there.)
Some facts in this book I would’ve been more comfortable not knowing. It was a prison camp, definitely not somewhere remotely pleasant. Some parts made me really grimace for all of those poor men who suffered so much.
The really incredible part for me was near the very end. Louie had turned to drinking to destroy the war still raging in his mind, but eventually through a series of events (I’m not going to tell you everything… You need to read the book!) he became a Christian, stopped his drinking, and not only that, he came to a point in his life where he could see how God had loved him and taken care of him even through the worst of the POW camp.
That was my favorite part. Obviously from the comfort of my air conditioned home it was easy for me to say that. But for Louie Zamperini to not only say that but to believe that and act on that belief… it was incredible.
I do have one side note, though. This book was a Young Adult adaption, so just in case you were thinking about reading it and you get the Adult version… I don’t know what the difference is, I just know I liked this one. 🙂
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Downing is a homeschooled high school student who live on a small farm in the middle of no where. She enjoys reading, writing, taking pictures and dreaming about her future. She blogs at naomiandbooks.wordpress.com.