Friday, 28 September 2012
Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
I didn't know it was even possible for me to be even more freaked out by sharks than I already was. Then I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This is not a book about sharks. But did you know you can fend off a shark by glaring at it and punching it in the nose? That's what Louie Zamperini did and this biography is about him.
Unbroken traces Louie's life as an unruly, fighting, and thieving child through his years as a talented Olympic athlete, and into his war years as a bombardier on sketchy barely-flyable aircraft. What happens next is horrifying (the sharks. Etc.). And what happens after that is even worse. Then it gets into hellish-territory as it describes Louie's life as a prisoner of war in Japan.
But in spite of the numerous horrors described, the book is full of hope. The underlying theme throughout Louie's experiences is to hold on to dignity and hope and humanity, no matter the cost. That is what kept me turning pages long after I should have been asleep every night.
At points, the story does get bogged down in the historical and technical details that the author included. Of course those details are fascinating, but the character's story was so riveting that I wanted to get back to it as quickly as possible. One could split this book up into a technical history of the Pacific side of WWII and a narrative memoir and both books would be excellent. Although perhaps the one about Louie's experiences would be a bit too intense if it didn't have the history to break it up!