Monday, July 11, 2011

Book review: Unbroken

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Two book reviews in two days?  Three in one week?  Who am I?  I'm an English teacher set loose, that's who.  Reading for fun is such a delicious treat.  I started this book yesterday and I'm proud to say that I spent the entire day after my run lounging around so I could finish it today.  Not since the final Harry Potter have I made a one-or-two-day feast out of a book.  It feels like being eleven again, trying to fill the long summer days with words.

Don't worry, the blog isn't going to become all reviews, all the time.  This review couldn't wait, though.  Unbroken is that good.

As usual I'm late to the party.  People all around me have been talking it up--even Grandpa Ed read it before I did.  But I'm hoping I'm not the last one to said party so I can convince you to read this book.

Unbroken is the true-life story of
a man who lived through a series of catastrophes almost too incredible to be believed. In evocative, immediate descriptions, Hillenbrand unfurls the story of Louie Zamperini--a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero. During a routine search mission over the Pacific, Louie’s plane crashed into the ocean, and what happened to him over the next three years of his life is a story that will keep you glued to the pages, eagerly awaiting the next turn in the story and fearing it at the same time. You’ll cheer for the man who somehow maintained his selfhood and humanity despite the monumental degradations he suffered, and you’ll want to share this book with everyone you know. --Juliet Disparte (
I won't give away much of the narrative because a major part of the enjoyment of this book comes from the fact that as you read it you're thinking how did this actually happen to a real person?

Hillenbrand is the same woman who wrote Seabiscuit, which I have not read.  I enjoyed her style of writing here, though, and I also found it easy to digest.  I wasn't distracted by her writing at all--which is nice--it just faded away as I got caught up in the story.  I also have to say that this book is paced to perfection.  I can't remember a "dead" part of the story or a chapter where too much was lost in description.  Hillenbrand guides us through the many things that happened to Zamperini (and there are too many to even imagine) without losing us or losing the sense of momentum that drives the story.  This would make a great movie and I am sure it will be one, but I am sad that so much of it will be lost when trimming it down to two-ish hours.  After reading it, I'd like to see Lou Zamp, the miniseries.

I'll confess that a lot of page-turners make me feel slightly guilty, like I'm reading trash and I should go back to more literary fare.  But this book holds up well in the writing and the research.  It was still captivating.  I loved every second of being in this world.  I LOVED THIS BOOK TO PIECES.

My recommendation:  Move it to the top of your list.  Read it right now; don't wait! You will love it.

1 comment:

  1. I loved Unbroken so much I can't speak when I try to bring up the words. You said it perfectly. I bought it for my Marine son for Christmas, he's deployed on a ship right now. By the way, he's on the USS Makin Island. I told him the history of that ship is in that book and he needs to read it. He won't be able to put it down. I couldn't. Thank you for a great review.