Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's complicated to review a book like Unbroken. The novel itself is beautifully written, but the text within is not for the faint of heart. Hillendbrand, much like she did with Seabiscuit, takes the reader deep into a life that most people couldn't create in their worst nightmare.
Louis Zamperini, a wild and rambunctious young boy, goes from turning tricks as child to turning his stomach inside out as a prisoner of war in multiple Japanese camps during World War II. As a bombardier, he and his crew crash into the ocean and only three of them survive. It's a challenge alone not to be eaten by sharks (a not uncommon death to soldiers during WWII unbeknownst to me), but when finally rescued (and I'm using the word loosely) from the open sea, Zamperini and his mates experience horrors unknown. An enemy plane spots them adrift after failed searches by their own brothers in arms.
While the happy ending of a true rescue does eventually come, Zamperini is plagued with REAL PTSD (sorry - its so overused now as an excuse so I can't help but note the actual realness of his psychological trauma) and his life as he knew it as a man, an Olympian, a son, a brother, is crushed under the ashes of his broken head and broken heart. Through a spiritual awakening from the renowned Billy Graham, Zamperini is finally able to piece his life back together.
He is a true testament to American heroism - his is a story worth telling.
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