* CONTAINS SPOILERS
Unbroken is about the incredible life of Louis Zamperini starting with a mischievous childhood in California and discovering in his teens an unrivaled talent for track running. After a short career as a U.S. Olympian, Louis joins the U.S. Army Air Forces and is deployed to the Pacific as a bombardier. On a fateful mission to find a missing plane, Louis and the crew he is travelling with are shot down by the Japanese. Only Louis and two other men resurface, and spend a harrowing number of days trapped together on a tiny lifeboat with no food or water. When the men finally reach land, they are immediately captured by the Japanese navy. Meanwhile, the Zamperini family have been waiting anxiously for word that he is still alive and can’t believe it when the Army declares that Louis is dead. As years go by, they try to move on with their lives, having no idea that Louis is a prisoner of war in Japan.
Unbroken is an thrilling story about survival and finding hope, going through hell and coming back, more than once. I found it difficult to walk away from this (audio) book for too long. I really like how Unbroken spans the life of Louis up until publication (he died this year at age 97), so that the story feels as if it comes full circle.
The torture and mistreatment Louis and other POWs endure at the hands of their Japanese captors is completely dehumanizing, both heinous and heartbreaking, and I cried (as I always do) over how anyone could treat another human being with such depravity.
Unbroken captured my heart and mind with Louis Zamperini’s true story. I wondered why the movie adaptation is coming out at this time of year, but I believe now that it truly is an inspirational story with a message that complements the spirit of the holidays. The message that even in your darkest moments there can be a light that leads you back home to the ones you love, and Louis Zamperini embodies the inner strength inside us all.