Reviewed by: Claire A
What is life like for an Olympian bombardier? In the novel Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, Louie Zamperini is born a rebel. He never follows rules, until, his older brother, Pete, notices Louie’s extremely long legs and convinces the track coach to give him a chance at running. Louie’s track career takes off and is soon headed to the Olympics. Suddenly, disaster strikes, as World War II begins brewing. After the 1940 Olympics were canceled, Louie becomes a talented bombardier, the man on the plane who must acquire quick skill and perfect aim. Disaster once again strikes and Louie and a couple of his plane’s crewman are left stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on a small raft built for two, no food, little water, and little hope of survival. The Pacific Ocean is full of monstrous sharks, ones who are waiting for the very moment for someone to make one fatal mistake. After forty-seven days of mindlessly drifting at sea, Louie, and his anxious crewmen, spot what appears to be Japan. The Japanese are nothing like what they have heard, when they are brought aboard a Japanese ship, they are treated fairly, but as war burns like a fiery flame, the Japanese become desperate for the outcome. The Japanese generals turn ruthless, and they treat the former Olympian like he is the runt of the pack. Louie loses not only weight, but also his hope and will to live. All Louie wants is to go home, but there appears to be no chance of that ever happening in the ruins of World War II. Even when he doesn’t want it to, life goes on for Louie. The harshest of the Japanese Generals is Mutsuhiro Watanabe, known as “The Bird.” He despises Louie and lives in “attack mode,” forcing Louie to live through unimaginable pain. Even when the war is over, the Bird haunts Louie; the Bird hurts Louie not just physically, but mentally too, taking over his dreams and thoughts. Louie must learn that even in rough times, you can’t give up.
I cannot begin to describe how amazing Unbroken is. Every word in this book is written as if you’re right there next to Louie. When Louie feels pain, you feel it too. I have never read a book that causes me to feel as deeply as I did when reading Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. I loved the suspense and the I-am-never-going-to-put-this-book-down moments, especially when I am reading parts about the war and even when he is at home in Torrance. Every chapter, it seems, is important to the overall outcome of this story. Whenever the story becomes slower and harder to get through, there is always an action packed scene right around the corner, just waiting to be read.
If you haven’t read this amazing novel, you should strongly consider it. I do suggest, though, that this book is read by only readers who are in middle school or older. The book is very descriptive and very life like; keep in mind that the movie is PG-13, because of all the action of war. Although it is very intense, I strongly recommend it. Laura Hillenbrand does an outstanding job and that does not go unnoticed. Unbroken is a must-read!