Thursday, October 2, 2014

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This book?  Incredible.  And I just found out, right now, that a movie is coming out in December!  Whaaaat?  What a great Christmas movie.  It better be good!  Seriously though, hands down one of the best books I've read.  I put it on my Top 10 list (which I don't have because really, how can anyone possibly begin the daunting task of limiting their favorite books to only 10?  I assure you, it's impossible!).

When we were in San Diego, I did some book talk with my sister whilst we laid poolside.  At the time I was reading 12 Years a Slave.  Loved it.  Great book.  She then told me about Unbroken.  She warned me it was long, but convinced me it was well worth my time.  Honestly if anyone else had recommended it to me, I probably wouldn't have jumped on it so quickly.  I have the attention span that's good for young adult literature.  Get to the story, keep it moving, make it snappy.  If the actualy book is too thick, I'm immediately turned off.  My professor referred to it at the Big Mac.  If a book is bigger than a bite from a Big Mac, no kid will want to read it.  I won't read it either.  I need to be REALLY convinced.  But since anything my sister tells me becomes canonized in my mind, I acted promptly.  (Definition of 'promptly' -- before finishing my other 2 books, I purchased Unbroken on my kindle and had it ready to go.  It helps that with a kindle I can't truly see how close to the Big Mac size it is.)

My sister's status remains up high on that pedestal because this book, holy freakin' cow, did not disappoint.  I loved it.

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Before I jump into the story, let me talk about the research necessary for a book of this caliber.  Laura Hillenbrand is incredible.  (She also authored Seabiscuit.)  Many may not know this, but apparently Hillenbrand struggles with illness, sometimes to the point where she can be bedridden for weeks at a time.  Sometimes she can't write for many days.  She is extremely thorough in her research, and because of her situation, often takes a very long time to publish a book.  However, when she does publish, it's golden.  I have a habit of reading the Acknowledgments section in the back of books.  I think it's because I hope to publish a book one day, and I would hope that, perhaps, that section has meaning to it.  Come on people, it's the Acknowledgements section.  Let's acknowledge people.  And let me tell you, I was amazed at how many people were involved in this book.  The research is impressive.

So, let's talk story.  Louis Zamperini, punk kid, turned Olympic athlete, turned bomber and defender of freedom, turned war prisoner in Japan.  The things he survived is beyond incredible from sharks to disgusting abuse and down right cruelty in various POW camps.  And when he finally gets home (this isn't a spoiler people...he gets home), the effects of those experiences start taking a toll.  How do you go on after living in Hell?  How do you function?  Where do you go from there?

I could go on and on, but all I want to say is this: I did not want to put the book down.  I stayed up way too late...into the wee hours of the I could keep reading.  I haven't done that in a very very long time.  I was captivated.  I was inspired.  And I believe my own faith was strengthened.  Zamperini's faith, humility, resilience, and plain character...maybe that's the real story.  And it reminds us all that there is always hope.  Always.

So worth the read.  Put it on your bucket list.  It's that good.

*** I just saw that Louis Zamperini, at age 97, passed away this past July.  He worked with Laura Hillenbrand when she wanted to write his story, and then worked with Angelina Jolie when she wanted to direct the movie.  He won't live to see it on screen, but he lived it.  And he lived it well.  People like Louis change lives.  So glad I read his story.

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