There are only a handful of books that have the ability to completely consume me. You'd think most people by age 27, especially one whose father is a Doctor and Professor of Theology and mother just recieved her M.A. and works at a liberal arts university, would be more quick to pick up a book than a movie at Red Box. Though I love to read, always have, I admit a well-produced film with faces I can see and emotions instantaneously empathize with, have always been far more captivating to me than words on paper. It might be the film geek in me or just my pathetic American attention span, but I get a thrill whenever I find an interesting book cover that says “New York Times best-seller and soon to be Motion Picture" and for some reason am more apt to buy and quickly read such a book. Though I typically just end up just reading the cover page or first chapter, determining whether or not I want to pay the $9.50 once it hits theaters. But there are rare, rare exceptions. A few months ago (ok more like November) my Dad got me a book I had my eye on for a while. It was a road-trip gift. Side note: my Dad is the best gift-giver ever. Every single family road trip I can remember we've each been given (my mom included) a bag of goodies and some source of entertainment, probably in a good effort to keep us from killing each other or jumping out of the moving vehicle. The thought did slip through my mind this last trip . My entertainment for this last road trip was “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.” by Laura Hillenbrand.
I had heard of Hillenbrand, well-known for the epic book-made-movie “Seabuscuit.” I never read “Seabiscuit”, but heard that it was, of course, better than the movie. And of course, only watched the film. But this story had a different kind of appeal that intrigued me. Apparently it took Hillenbrand 7 years to write, directly after "Seabiscuit," so there had to be something there. Though it took me months to complete, any moment I did have to read "Unbroken" was never less than captivating.
"Unbroken" is a story of unsung hero Louis Zamperini, a P.O.W during WWII and former Olympic runner, that literally grabs you by the throat and drags you through the trenches, all by Hillenbrand’s narrative graces. This book is beyond any typical WWII epic bio. Zamperini’s story is brutal. It is excruciating but endlessly enticing. The title catches the spirit of Zamperini like no other word can. His life, in it’s raw form, makes all of us present Americans (men in particular, who now more than ever seem so easily beaten up by life’s unexpected events or their mere “feelings”), look like a bunch of premature pansies. It is unreal such a story hasn't been discovered until now. While “Unbroken” is probably just one of thousands of POW accounts from over history that could easily inflict nauseating pain from it’s unreal yet all too real accounts, it seems his story faced every trial possible for a man to face.
It’s just the book I needed to read at this point in life. At time I felt I was facing "hardships" these past few months, I'd pick up this book and it would put me in my place. Zamperini's story did not just give me gratitude for those who’ve paid the cost for my freedom, but sorely trampled on any frustration I've had with life of late. "Unbroken" has reminded me of the resilience that can only fill a man when he seeks the help of the God who created him and knows him better than he knows himself. It is a must-read. And shocker, soon too be a not-quite-as-good-as-the-book featured film.