by Laura Hillenbrand
I know I'm reading a good book when I find myself reading it until the wee hours of the morning despite the fact that I must wake up at 6 am. That's how Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand was for me. Hillenbrand, famous for writing Seabiscuit, is a phenomenal author. I enjoy reading non-fiction, especially memoirs and biographies, but it isn't one of those genres I sit down and read in one sitting. At least not until I read this book. Unfortunately I didn't have time to read it during one sitting so I brought it everywhere. Work, my friend's house, shopping...anywhere I thought I'd have an extra minute to read. I was a woman possessed. From the first chapter, I was completely riveted.
Unbroken tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track star who enlists in the military shortly before WWII. An Army Air Corps bombardier (he helped navigate the plane to the bombing target and released the bombs), Louis was shot down over the Pacific and survived at sea for 47 days only to be captured and sent from one demoralizing Japanese POW camp to another. His war experience is absolutely astonishing and at times I'd finish a chapter feeling mentally exhausted from the horror and suspense I'd just read. Fortunately, Hillenbrand does a wonderful job of conveying Louis' personal resilience, providing the reader with a feeling of hope throughout the book.
You know how sometimes you finish a book and it was so wonderful and soul-consuming that you just have to close the book, take a deep breath and think about it's greatness for a few minutes? And it is hard to start a new book because you don't want to let go of the characters of the book you just finished? Well, maybe you don't. I'm kind of weird. BUT, that is exactly how I felt when I finished Unbroken. However, just in case my expert opinion was not enough for you, this book also appeared on multiple Top 10 lists at the end of the year and received a Starred Review from Publisher's Weekly. Personally, I finished this book with an even more profound appreciation for the soldiers of WWII (a group of people for which I already reserved much respect), especially for the men who served in Japanese POW camps, locations of some of the most unspeakably cruelty in history.
Please read it and if you do, let me know what you thought!