“Louie would give away anything, whether it was his or not.”
Why: Rarely have we wanted so genuinely for a work of nonfiction to be fiction. While the title suggests Unbroken is a tale of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption; plenty of pain, hardship, and sadness are also thrown in the mix. And while the life of the novel’s primary character may be accurately described, for countless other WWII POW’s, their story is much more tragic. Now that we’ve effectively destroyed all happiness in the room we can continue with the review...
Following the 1936 Olympic Games Louis Zamperini was certain his legacy would be on the track. Unfortunately, the world decided to go to war. As a bombardier in the United Sates Air Forces a cruel fate would strike Zamperini’s plane during a routine search and rescue mission in the Pacific Ocean. Armed with only a raft, two other companions, and a really fun last name, the main character thought surely things couldn’t get any worse. Never before has one person been proven so wrong by that oft paradoxical statement. And in the case of “The Bird”, never before has one human been so brutal to his fellow man (okay, history would probably prove us wrong here, which is only more discouraging).
The fact that we don’t read a lot of nonfiction probably made this story hit us even harder. We’d be reading Unbroken and suddenly we’d be reminded; oh man, this actually happened. And what actually happened was terribly hard to fathom. The story is emotional and delivers exactly what the subtitle suggests. The novel felt well researched and gave us a completely new perspective on WWII. How Louie or Allen or any of the POW’s could have endured their hardships and moved on with life is unimaginable.
In our opinion, if Unbroken was missing anything it was in the area of redemption. While we were very much inspired by the form that redemption took, the process felt rushed compared with all the survival and resilience. We wanted to learn so much more about his spiritual transformation given how deep his scars penetrated. Nonetheless, we came away in awe of Mr. Zamperini and his incredible story. Definitely make this one a priority next time you need a solid nonfiction read, just make sure your emotions are all limbered up and ready to be pushed to the edge.