Review of: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Reviewed by: Nicole

Everyone wants attention at least once in their life, but that attention could ruin it all. A rebellious boy named Louie Zamperini craved for people to notice him. He started to smoke and drink as a young boy in order to be seen by his family and to seem tough. Stealing was his life; anything that his hungry, Italian hands could grasp Louie would make it his. Pete, his older track star and courteous brother, always imagined that Louie could one day amount to something.  So when Louie was in jeopardy of getting into real trouble, Pete made his younger brother sign up for something he had been doing his whole life: running. Louie’s legs had already had practice running from cops, so how could a race be any different? Louie’s older brother pushed him to train as vigorously as he could. Louie began to acquire desire for having a future in running . Louie smashed records including Pete’s, and in any race he started, he ended up stealing first place from his exhausted competitors. A place on the 1936 Olympic team was earned by the competitive teenager in a race against one of the fastest runners in America. Louie contemplated the 1940 Olympics in Japan, but outside Louie’s world, a war was brewing and it was going to taste like soldiers’ blood. When The Olympics were canceled, he enlisted to become a bombardier. In the Air Force, Louie became very close with his pilot named Phil. On a rescue mission, Louie’s plane, a B-24, dove towards the roaring ocean and Louie braced himself for death.  Only three men survived the deadly crash: Louie, Phil, and Mac. Just like that, Louie’s dreams began to sink with the metal bird.  After 47 days of sharks, starvation, dehydration, and fear of what lies ahead, Louie and Phil’s raft was rescued by the Japanese, and they became Prisoners-Of-War (POWs). 

In the POW camp, the Bird, a Japanese soldier full of hatred and jealousy, swoops down on the Olympic runner unlike any other POW officer. The Bird will not stop beating Louie until he loses his dignity and even to the point when doesn’t feel human anymore. Finally, WWII is over and Louie gets to go home. At first, the former runner’s only clue of being a POW were his physical scars.  However, soon after getting married, nightmares and flashbacks arrive in his mind. He begins to drink, but that doesn’t help, and it only makes situations worse. He wants to kill the Bird for the pain he caused, and that consuming anger torments Louie’s mind.  Cynthia, his wife, begs him to go see Billy Graham, a Christian speaker, but Louie wants nothing to do with God. All Louie’s life, he had finished races, but can he finish life’s race with God filling his bitter heart?  

This action-packed novel is one of my favorite books.  Unbroken didn’t take me very long to read because I couldn’t put it down.  I was challenged by the vocabulary and the amazing figurative language. “The POWs saw fire dancing over the skyline.” “Slavery swallowed men’s souls, but the POWs scored little victories.” Those are just two of the incredible figurative language. The suspense made me read for hours. I wanted to know how Louie was going to survive the plane crash. Laura Hillenbrand did an incredible job writing about Louie’s life and making it feel like you are with him through every struggle. There was a lot of deep detail in the POW camp and that made me realize the pain that Louie went through. I personally loved discovering the times that God was obviously with Louie throughout his life. When Louie was on the raft a Japanese fighter plane shot at the for hours and not one bullet hit him or his friends. Unbroken Is definitely one of my favorite stories and I will always love it. In the action-packed novel, Louie learned that he had the strength it took to get through the gruesome war and he realized what his purpose was in life.

I think everyone should read the biography of Louie’s eventful life; however, I do not recommend this book for ages under twelve.  It has a few scenes that some younger children shouldn’t read, like how Louie was tortured and how badly he was treated; but the episodes of Louie’s life that are scary makes the reader identify with Louie. Also, to be able to dig deep and think deeply about this novel is easier for older kids. I think both boys and girls will fall in love with this story and especially if they love the history of WWII.  Unbroken is an amazing story  which all readers will remember long after they finish reading.