Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Book & Movie Review

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Everyone should go read this book!!!  I really don't know where else to start this review.  I began recommending it to people when I was only 25 pages in myself.  And since I was so far behind the crowd in reading it, there's already a Young Readers Edition on the market, too.  I've been recommending that version teen boys left and right.  

Unbroken is divided into five parts of Louie Zamperini's life.  The first part is his childhood and very young adulthood; his journey from town scamp to Olympic contender.  Then parts two, three, and four are tales of his survival as a WWII airborne bombardier, castaway after a plane wreck, Japanese POW, and eventual rescue.  The final part is about his life after the war.  I don't believe the term "PTSD" entered the American lexicon until Vietnam, but it's clear that Louie suffered from it.  Through all of this Louie remained as strong as possible, and he survived.

I had heard nearly all of that from family, friends, and other reviewers who had read the book, but there's so very much more to the story!  I was chuckling at Louie's antics as a young boy, and loved reading about how his older brother, Pete, took him under wing and redirected all his extra energy into running track instead of wrecking havoc in the neighborhood.  I knew that Louie survived everything (it's a biography, and I knew that he hadn't passed away until 2014; that's not a spoiler) but was still so very nervous while reading about all that he went through.  Like when he was a castaway for forty seven days.  I don't know how he survived that!  Then as a prisoner of war, he endured unthinkable abuses at the hands of his captors.  I freely admit that I probably wouldn't have the willpower that he had.  I'm just so humbled after reading all that he went through in the service of our country.

Unbroken was a hard story to hear, but an easy read, as far as nonfiction goes.  It reads so well, and the things he manages to survive are so insanely horrific, you might almost think you're reading fiction.  The hubby reads an average of 12 books a year (yup; we're that kind of couple... we track our yearly reading totals!) and he read Unbroken in less than a week!  He loved it, and has also been busy recommending it.

Last month, I "broke" one of my "rules" and went to see Unbroken with the hubby, my brother-in-love, and sister-in-love.  WOW.  It's a really, really great movie.  The acting is top-notch, and so is the pacing.  Of course the director had to leave out a bit of the book, or the movie would be 3 days long.  But never once did I feel there were any awkward jumps in the timeline, or that I was left with unanswered questions.  We had the good fortune to see it on an extra-big screen, and it often felt like we were right there with Louie.  

I give two thumbs up to both the book and the movie.  I would say that everyone needs to read the book because it's really good and more comprehensive than the movie, and that everyone should strongly consider seeing the movie because it's a pretty darn fair representation of the book!

*I own my copy of Unbroken.

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