I had to write a report/review of this book for my AP US History class, so I’ve decided to use that as my review. I apologize for my frequent book reviews and not so frequent posts about everything else – spring break has finally arrived, so I will get right on that!
In Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand narrates the odyssey of Louie Zamperini – from his success as an Olympic athlete to his internment as a prisoner of war under the Japanese. Zamperini started off as an unruly child, but his rebellious nature was reformed into a healthy addiction to running – due to his talent, he was chosen to represent the United States in the Berlin Olympics. Afterward, as World War II began, he changed his career and became a bombardier. When a rescue mission went awry, he ended up alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. His fight for survival at this point only surfaced the ocean of his struggles, as he proceeded to be captured by the Japanese, who treated him horribly and inhumanely. However, after suffering from hateful and dehumanizing torture in several camps, Zamperini was able to return home once the war ended. Life was not a basket of peaches then, but eventually, he rose above his trials and tribulations and emerged unbroken from the battles he had faced.
Laura Hillenbrand writes well. Zamperini’s story itself interested me, and the book as a whole – despite some questionable facts and tangent-like plot twists – impressed me. As someone who generally sticks to fiction, Unbroken, despite being a historical nonfiction work, kept my attention like any well-written novel would have.
However, Unbroken was not an easy book to read. Every time Zamperini or one of his fellow POWs was tortured or treated inhumanely, I cringed. I cannot say that I have experienced anything even remotely similar to the suffering they endured, but my empathy for them enveloped my emotions as I read. Zamperini, especially, is such a strong person. While I was amazed by his perseverance during his plight in the Pacific and in his imprisonment, what really spoke to me the most was his ability to forgive his tormentor after the war was over. His ability to treat a monstrous man with kindness and compassion – someone who had beaten him down and stripped him of his dignity – truly inspires me to be an improved, more forgiving individual.