Unbroken by Laura Hildenbrand
Age Range: High School and Up
Grade Level: 9-12
Published by Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 29, 2014)
Genre: Non-fiction, Biography
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“Olympic running, stranded on a raft battling angry sharks in the middle of the ocean, being tortured by vicious Japanese-these scenarios frame Laura Hildenbrand’s intriguing World War II story Unbroken. As a spunky young boy growing up in Torrance, CA, Louie Zamperini had no idea that his spunky spirit would serve him well in the years to come. He did not expect to become an Olympic runner, get drafted into the army, and become a POW. Hildenbrand’s Unbroken teaches that hard work and perseverance bring reward and that having faith in the midst of dire circumstances bring one hope.
First, Unbroken teaches that hard work and perseverance bring reward. In chapter 2, Louie demonstrates this truth when he continues to run despite his principle’s discouragement and his own lack of speed. Though he feels like quitting, Louie’s older brother Pete forces him to continue training until Louie is running on his own. This running led Louie’s speed to improve and he started placing in his schools’ races, than winning them, then becoming the fastest kid in the state, and then competing in the Olympics. Louie also demonstrates this lesson in the epilogue when he started the nonprofit Victory Boys camp that began with “only an idea and very little money…He’d spent two years manning backhoes, upending boulders, and digging a swimming pool. When he was done, he had a beautiful camp.” Both of Louie’s accomplishments required a lot of hard work and perseverance, but in the need they paid off.
While teaching that reward comes from hard work and perseverance, Unbroken also teaches that having faith in the midst of dire circumstances bring one hope. In chapter 15 Louie demonstrates this truth by patching bullet holes in the raft, shot by the Japanese, for hours and not quitting. After a Japanese plane spotted the three men afloat on the raft they rained down bullets-severing one raft and peppering the other raft with bullet holes. Because the other raft was completely ruined, all three men had to crowd onto the one surviving raft; however, this raft was sinking lower every minute because of the many holes that were letting out air and the hungry sharks that were jumping onto it in attempts to get the men. Louie knew that if the holes were not patched soon, the men would die, so he worked feverishly for he hours battling hungry sharks and fatigue without giving up hope. Louie also demonstrates this lesson while as a POW in a Japanese concentration camp in chapters 28-29 when he continues to have faith for the wars end to keep him going (291). Battling starvation, cruel Japanese medical experiment and torture Louis continues to cling to the hope of the war’s end instead of giving up. In both trials, Louie had faith and did not give in to what his mind wanted him to do; thus saving his life.
Louie Zamperini’s story shows how hard work and perseverance bring reward and that having faith despite the circumstances keep one going. Louie went through a lot of hard trials in his life but he used them to build him up-not tear him down. His character continues to be an inspiring example to individuals all around the world. Laura Hildenbrand’s Unbroken keeps the reader on the edge of his seat throughout the entire story in a phenomenal true story of “survival, resilience, and redemption”.”
Unbroken was an amazing book and definitely on my favorites list. Louis’s story is very inspiring. I cannot believe how much faith this guy had. I just recently watched the newest movie Unbroken by Pureflix that just came out. The film was awesome. It put a unique perspective and understanding of the book. I recommend both! However, i recommend reading the book before watching the movie.