I had to read Unbroken for school and I really wasn’t planning on liking it. I actually thought that I would hate it and struggle to get through it. Little did I know that I would fall in love with it. It was unbelievable. I literally could not believe it.
Louis Zamperini has always been a runner. In the beginning he ran from the people he stole from. He was a rambunctious child whose favorite hobby was theft. But then, in high school, his brother, Pete, convinced him to try out for the school track team. He was horrible at first, but when he heard people clapping for him, he vowed to hear it again and again. After much training, Louie ran like the wind. He was the best runner to hit Torrance, California ever. He was a star in his high school, as well as at his college, USC. He even participated in the 1936 Olympics, finishing fifth in a race that he had only fun four times before. Finally, Louie’s life was looking up. Then, WWII hit and Louie was thrust into the Army Corps. At first, all went smoothly until his plane, Green Hornet, crashed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Stuck on a raft for over forty days with two other men, no food, and little water, Louie survives only to be captured by the Japanese and placed in numerous horrific POW camps. What Louie experienced there haunted him for years after it was finally over. He had spent over three years being beaten, starved, and worked nearly to death.
Okay, I know that was a long description, but this was a really complicated book. It was unlike any book I have read before, so this review will be unlike any review I have ever written.
First of all: Louie. I fell in love with him as I read about him. He was so strong and he always stayed positive and he was funny. He constantly challenged those that tried to crush him and he remained human even after all of the dehumanizing experiences he went through. Although he had a hard time living after the war was over (he was haunted by nightmares and plagued by flashbacks), he still never really gave up. And when Hillenbrand described old man Louie, I wanted him to be my grandfather. He ran six minute miles in his sixties and he rode skateboards in his eighties! The day he got out of the hospital with a broken hip, he hiked three miles. Is he a resilient dude, or what?
Now for his story: I think the reason that I liked his story do much more that other nonfiction things that I have read is that what happened to him was impossible. There is no way he could have lived through all of the things he went through and remain anything resembling a human, but he did. It was astounding. I am so so glad that Laura Hillenbrand was able to get his story down on paper before it was gone, along with Louie (he is still alive; I’m just saying). It was an incredible story that I think EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THIS EARTH should read (however, you must be able to handle extreme violence and disturbing things). It was that good. It shows the side of WWII that we don’t usually think about: the Pacific POWs. Usually all I hear when discussing WWII is the concentration camps and the Nazis, but I rarely hear anything about Japan or the POWs there.
I must say that this book disturbed me a lot, but I still really liked it. Although there was one incident with a duck that I could have lived my entire life without knowing. Hillenbrand did an excellent job because she held nothing back and she told every part of the story so brilliantly and beautifully that I was awestruck. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book!