Book Review: Unbroken

What’s it about? 

Unbroken is the true story of Louie Zamperini, a long-distance runner and member of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1936.  He had aspirations of competing for gold in future Olympics, but World War II intervened and he joined a bomber crew fighting in the Pacific.  During the war, his plane went down in the Pacific, and he survived 47 days floating on a raft in the ocean…only to be captured by the Japanese and tortured in a POW camp.

What’s good?

Author Laura Hillenbrand tells a riveting story.  Certainly, Zamperini’s story is remarkable enough on its own, and Hillenbrand relates it in a way that keeps the pages turning as you become desperate to find out what happens next to poor Louie.  Zamperini himself is a worthy hero, simply for perservering through such a horrible turn of events.  Like the best stories, it’s all true.  A Hollywood script-writer would be laughed out of town if he’d turned in a fictional script with a story like this, which makes the story all the more remarkable.  Also, I’m a sucker for WWII stories to begin with, so I was probably part of the target audience for the book.

What’s not-so-good?

Honestly, I’d be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with this book.  It’s really an amazing story and a great read.

What age would be appropriate for kids to read it?

The many scenes of violence and torture in the camps make it a tough read with more of an adult mindset.  I would venture to guess that younger kids wouldn’t be interested anyway.  Share it with your teens when you think they’re ready or would have an interest.

Are there lessons from the story that dads can teach their kids?

Absolutely!  The obvious theme would be that of perserverance, and never giving up hope.  Sooner or later our kids will realize that the world doesn’t work the way we want it to, and that things won’t always go our way.  Stories like Zamperini’s are valuable tools to show that even when things are bleak, it’s important never to give up.  Strength of character, dignity, hope and a sense of humor are important qualities no matter what.  This book is highly recommended.

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