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I Would Have Broken: Unbroken Book Review

posted Jan 8, 2015, 6:06 PM by Carlee Schmelzer

Carlee Schmelzer

A page turner from start to finish, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken deserves all the hype. I decided to read this book when I first saw the movie was coming out. Not being a fan of history or sports stories, it is a miracle that I ventured within 50 feet of this book, but I am so glad I did. Bearing in mind my usual book preferences, usually realistic fiction written by Jodi Picoult,  I was expecting to have to crawl through Unbroken when in reality I flew through the book like Louie Zamperini in a B-24 bomber!

As a child, Louie Zamperini was always running, usually to make a quick getaway from the homes and business that he had stolen from. He turned to smoking and alcohol at a young age and was a feared delinquent around his home town of Torrence, Calif. With the guidance of his older brother Pete, Louie began running with the goal to win instead of to get away. Louie joined his high school track team and became an unbeatable force to be reckoned with, honing his skills with a ferocity that carried him all the way to the Berlin Olympics at the age of 19. Then the war began. Unwilling to be drafted into a random branch, Louie signed up to be in the Army Air Force and would become an airman, embarking on a journey that eventually led to a doomed flight in May of 1943. Impossibly, Louie survives the crash but is astoundingly unprepared for what was to come. Drifting aimlessly on a inflatable life raft, overcome with thirst and starvation, Louie also dealt with leaping sharks, Japanese aircraft, and unforeseeable dangers that would strip Louie of his pride and dignity but could not take away his will to live.

I love everything about this book. I found the full version of  Unbroken in Barnes & Noble and was immediately hooked.There is not one dull moment or parts that I wanted to skip through. The only reason I ever put the book down was because I needed to take a step back in an attempt to grasp the trials Louie was facing or the horrors he had seen. Unbroken is

written so the reader doesn’t have to be a sports fan or a history buff to love this book  One just has to enjoy a great story. Besides Louie Zamperini, Laura Hillenbrand is to thank for the genius that is Unbroken.

Besides Unbroken, Hillenbrand wrote Seabiscuit: An American Legend. Both books are #1 New York Times best sellers and have been made into major motion pictures. Most people do not know that Hillenbrand  has suffered from a debilitating illness known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, formerly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). This disease causes profound exhaustion that can leave patients bed bound for months or years on end. Other symptoms include fever, sweats, chills, disturbances in balance, vision and cognition. The onset of ME/CFS in college forced Hillenbrand to drop out and a recurrence left her unable to leave her house for two years while she was writing Unbroken. Through perseverance and problem solving Hillenbrand was able to finish Unbroken after seven years, much to the happy surprise of her fans. 

Even though Louie died in 2014 , his legacy lives on through this book in his courage in the face of danger, his willingness to forgive, and his reliance on God.  We can all learn a lesson from these pages.