Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand is the book chosen for our book club next month. I was excited to read it because Laura Hillenbrand and I share a couple of things in common. We're both writers, and we both have a chronic illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I wanted to see what she was able to accomplish in spite of her illness. I found the author and her subject both to be very inspiring to me personally.
Unbroken is the biography of a remarkable man, Louie Zamperini, an Olympic runner and World War II veteran and former prisoner of war. From the opening preface to the final pages, Ms. Hillenbrand writes with a style befitting any thriller.
Tales of Louie Zamperini's childhood made me realize that my own “difficult” children are really not so bad. Their teenage antics pale in comparison to Zamperini's indomitable spirit. Like a wild horse that defies the best efforts of its masters to tame it, he remained unbroken and impossible to rein in.
Vanity and a desire to impress the ladies led Louie to train and discover his talent for running. He broke high school and college records and went on to compete in the Olympics. One of the youngest participants in a sport that favors age and experience, he did well but did not medal. His Olympic future looked promising, and it was believed that he would be the first man to break the four minute mile. But before he could prove himself in the following Olympics, World War II broke out, ending his career forever.
Ms. Hillebrand's description of the years Louie spent as a prisoner of war in Japanese camps is harrowing but never crosses the line into gory. As Louie survives over and over against all odds, you wonder how he could have done it. Laura digs deep into the character of the man and shows us how he was able to remain unbroken.
Louie's return home is heart-breaking, as you see the effects of his experience continue to haunt him. I admire the woman who married him; although she was human dealing with Louie, she always loved him and ultimately stood by his side.
Unbroken is a book about faith without becoming preachy. Louie's faith helped him survive months at sea, and it was a return to faith that allowed him to ultimately defeat his demons.
I loved this book and highly recommend it. I would give it five stars. It is a keeper, and I will be adding it to my Bookshelf.
For more of my five-star recommends, take a peek at my Bookshelf right under the title of my blog.