I finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand last night. Where do I begin? I thought I knew a little bit about WWII. I knew nothing. I thought I knew a little about POW’s and Post Traumatic Stress. I was wrong.
Laura Hillenbrand has once again created a masterpiece. This amazing book ranks as one of the best books I have ever read. Why? Could it be the way she captured my heart with the descriptions of little Louie Zamperini? He seemed so tough yet so lovable. Maybe it reminded me of the stories I’d heard from my own mother–who grew up in an Italian-American family with older brothers and cousins in pre-war Connecticut. Could it be the remembrance of the closeness, love and emotion that I grew up with in my traditional family?
The portrayed emotions in the book are full and real: From the joy, ecstasy, and arrogance that come from winning in sporting contests to the depths of humiliation, desperation and ruin that come from war. We see through Laura’s writing the pain families suffer when loved ones are lost to us. And the struggles of one day believing a son is alive to bearing the burden of being told he is lost at sea, dead…but never knowing for sure.
We experience through the accounts of survivors the brutality of living as a POW in WWII Japan. Some of it would be incomprehensible and hard to believe were it not for the painstaking bibliography and immaculate citations of this fine author who left no stone unturned to assure accuracy.
In the descriptions of family life, including the pot of sauce on the stove being prepared by a devoted Italian mamma, I adopted this family into my heart. I experienced a lifetime in 398 pages. I lived and breathed the book for the week it took me, morning noon and night, fitting in a page or paragraph at every break in the work day. And when it ended, I flipped right back to the beginning.
I now know Louie Zamperini, his family, and his beautiful and courageous wife who refused to let him go down in despair, and thus saved his life yet one more time. I loved his friends and fellow POW’s, and I hated his tormentors.
What a book!