Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review: UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand

Laura Hillenbrand has adapted her NYT bestseller for a young adult audience. UNBROKEN: An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive debuts from Random House this November, and I found it to be a compelling read that I could not put down!
The original cover on left, and YA adaptation on right

Louis Zamperini - a self described "clever delinquent" as a child, finds short lived fame as a runner, qualifying for the Berlin Olympics in 1936 in an event that he had only run four times. He was the youngest distance runner to ever make the team for the 5,000 meter event. While he didn't medal in Berlin - Zamperini was considered a virtual shoe-in for an Olympic medal at the next games, scheduled for Tokyo, Japan in 1940. The onset of World War II ended his running career for when the 1940 games were cancelled, and Zamperini became an airman for the United States.

When his rescue plane crashed, Louis and two other men survive the crash - spending the next 46 days on a tiny raft, facing starvation, thirst, and sharks.  Impossibly, the men are rescued, only to find out that their rescuers are in fact their enemies: the Japanese. 

Driven to the limits of endurance as a POW, Zamperini's story is a must read for young adults. His responses in the face of danger, desperation, and brutality show the strength and resilience of the human mind and body. Although it is an adaptation, the book pulls no punches in showcasing the horrors that Zamperini faced.  This is the ultimate survival story that will have readers up late at night turning pages with baited breath to find out how Zamperini triumphs over such adversity. Ultimately, it is a powerful story of redemption and mental fortitude.

The movie version is being released on Christmas Day. Make sure you have read the book beforehand! Here is the official trailer for the movie, directed by Angelina Jolie. 

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