Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review Discussion: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Book: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Genre: NF Memoir
For: book club
From: I read a library copy, but I have my own book too!

Short Synopsis: Louis Zamperini was a wild child... but when his brother got him into running he was able to focus his energy and he became one of the best runners ever. He went to the 1936 Olympics after only training for a couple of years. He had dreams of going back in 1940 and taking the gold. But before that could happen, WWII started and Louis enlisted and became a bombardier, flying in planes over the Pacific. One time when he was asked to go on a search for a missing plane, his own plane also went down. He, along with two other guys, survived on a raft for 47 days (well, one of the other guys didn't make it.) And then, he was captured by the Japanese and held as POW for two years. He did make it home, but he never made it back to the Olympics.

My Response: Wow, what a story! It's taken me so long to get to this one and I feel bad about that...but we've had plans for years to read it for book club and so I was waiting until that happened. It finally happened! And just in time for the movie this Christmas! I knew the story would be a pretty unbelievable one but still, I was surprised at the things this guy had to endure and am so impressed that he came out of it so well. I found it interesting that he still struggled, that it took him four years or so of crap before he could pull himself out it and live again. It's quite the inspirational story.

The writing is amazing too and I will read anything this author writes. She blows me away with her ability to take a story and make it so readable. And all with such thorough and overwhelming research. I don't know how she does it. I wonder what subject she'll be writing on next?

Bottom Line: Everyone should read this. Everyone. If you have't done it already, put it one your list!

Let's Talk About: If you HAVE read this book, what's the most amazing thing you think he had to survive? The POW stuff? The sharks? Being shot at? Starving? Disease? What's the biggest worst thing? It's hard to pick, don't you think?

Here's Louis with Angelina Jolie who directed the movie.
He died just this past July at 97 years old. 
Here's Louis the runner. 
Here's Louis going to war.
And here's Louis finally coming home, hugging his mom.
This picture makes me tear up!

Other Reviews:

Hillenbrand is a gifted author, one who carefully uncovers the essence of what it means to be human in the face of cruelty, degradation, and hopelessness. Although graphic at times, I could not stop reading this amazing book. From Caribousmom

I admit I wondered if there was some exaggeration in the book, too, but by all accounts the author did flawless research. From Books on the Brain

You will want to cheer for Louie; cry for him; fight for him; and save him. From Alison's Book Marks

What I didn't quite expect to be as emotional was the final section which focuses on his return to the States after the war is over. Those months and years where he had to get on with his life, to return to a "normal" life, his mental and emotional struggles. From Becky's Book Reviews

Here's the trailer for the movie which looks amazing and makes me weepy especially after reading the book:


  1. I guess I'm in the minority of not loving it. I think Hillenbrand's writing is good, but it wansn't my favorite style of writing. I would've preferred to read it from his perspective, an autobiography. I'm weird, I know. I'll probably be lynched tonight, lol.

    1. Jenni: I doubt you'll be lynched!

  2. I really loved this one, though it was so heartbreaking it was hard to read. I am in awe of the WWII generation - the things they survived and then didn't tell anyone about for ages.

    Have you read The Boys in the Boat? Totally different type of story, but those boys end up at the same Olympics as Zamperini (and Jesse Owens). A lot of fascinating stories came out of that one sporting event.

    1. KT: I agree. My grandparents got married and then my grandpa was gone for 2 or 3 years. Just that kills me. And he didn't even have to go overseas to fight! Anyway, I'll keep my eye open for that book. Thanks. :)

  3. Great review! This is my next audio book and I'm really looking forward to it. I read Seabiscuit a few years ago and liked Hillenbrand's writing.

  4. I have this one on my kindle, several in my family have read it. I have got to make time for it! Nice review.

  5. I recently finished this one and really, really enjoyed it! Definitely one of my favorite nonfiction books by far. I have mixed feelings about watching the movie. Just watching the preview brings tears to my eyes.

    I think the hardest part was dealing with the one guard that had it out for him. His constant torture, physical and psychological was brutal.



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