Saturday, March 14, 2015

Unbroken (YA Version) by Laura Hillenbrad

Synopsis: "“Every young person should have the chance to read this book. It’s easy to think, growing up, that bravery is for other people, who are simply born heroic. But nothing about Louis marked him out for greatness. He started out as a misfit and troublemaker, but became a great man because of his choices. His story shows that everyone has the potential to rise above obstacles. It is not where you start out in life that counts the most, it is how you choose to face it."—Angelina Jolie

On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary sagas of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he had been a clever delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and stealing. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a supreme talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war came, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a sinking raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would respond to desperation with ingenuity, suffering with hope and humor, brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would hang on the fraying wire of his will.

In this captivating young adult edition of her award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a man’s breathtaking odyssey and the courage, cunning, and fortitude he found to endure and overcome. Lavishly illustrated with more than one hundred photographs and featuring an exclusive interview with Zamperini, Unbroken will introduce a new generation to one of history’s most thrilling survival epics.

Title: Unbroken
Genre: YA Biography
Series: None
Pages: 282 (for the YA version; I read it b/c of less pg length)
Ages: 12+ (a lot of gruesome parts)
My Rating: 5 stars
One Word: Unforgettable
Fave Quote: "He was a body on a raft, dying of thirst. He felt words whisper from his swollen lips. It was a promise thrown to God, a promise he hadn't kept, a promise he'd allowed to forget until this instant: If you'll save me, I'll serve you forever. And then, standing under a tent on a clear night in Los Angeles, Louie felt rain falling on his face" (269).

I'm usually not serious at all with my book reviews, but for this book I feel like I have to be. I'll just say it plain, this book changed my life. I was overwhelmed with shock and grief reading through the beginning. If I thought my life was bad before this book, I thought wrong. The experiences that Louis Zamperini goes through are unfathomable, and just when I think "that is the worst that can possibly happen", there's always more. My heart was breaking for Louis, and the thought that these experiences were true, that there once existed this profound and unjustifiable event that occurred in history, makes me think differently about my own life and how little my problems compare to such a phenomenon.

My first thought of Unbroken was based on the subtitle: "An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive" made me think that this book can not possibly be about just one person. It seemed like one person was living nearly four lifetimes, and upon opening the book, my thought was deemed more true. The fact that Louis starts out as an aspiring Olympic runner, and then endures innumerable amounts of abuse-from beating up sharks, to starvation, to the Bird's endless treatment-makes his life the worst imaginable. However, the reason for Louis's true heroism is his perseverance and ability to think of his experiences as a blessing, a blessing that he survived and a blessing of God's help along the way.

Personally, I thought the hardest part of Louis' journey was not being lost in the middle of the ocean nor stuck in the POW camp, but the traumatizing effects once being save. He endured dramatic flashbacks, nightmares, and frequent visions of the Bird, which pushed Louis away from his natural determined self. In this part of the story, Louis had officially given up on himself and his life. After finding God and realizing how grateful he should be for God's miracles and surviving such an event, he got his life back together and soon started to help young, rebellious boys like him at their age, open their eyes to this true meaning.

The most inspiring and heartbreaking story I've ever read, and I most certainly will never forget the perseverance and determination of Louis Zamperini through an impossible journey.

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