Unbroken. It was one of those books that had gotten so many amazing reviews that I instantly felt skeptical. That didn't stop me, however, from giving the book to my dad for Christmas. His dad had flown in the same type of plane (B-24) in WWII as Louis Zamperini (albeit in a different location) which made the story all the more interesting to him. He began reading it and telling me how interesting it was at about the same time I found out that Zamperini would be coming to my son's high school to speak. That was something I didn't want to miss out on. Not only did I buy the book, but I also started an Audible.com trial: when I couldn't read, I listened; when I couldn't listen, I read.
Unbroken is quite a page-turner. I had to keep reminding myself that these were actual events. Some of the events in the Pacific Ocean reminded me of Life of Pi as far as the implausibility, but this was real. Unbelievable, except that there's a guy who lived to tell about it.
|Not a great photo, but that was Louie in|
the wheelchair--a fab fellow!
There were a couple of points that I was afraid the writing was going to bog down, (I thought that his childhood and the POW sections were both a tad longer than they needed to be,) but it never once got to the point that I wanted to set the book down. It's a book that I'd recommend to all but the most sensitive readers.
Seeing Louis Zamperini and hearing him speak was such a good experience. He just turned 95, but he is still so quick and funny. He talked of his youthful shenanigans, of meeting Hitler at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and his too-eventful time in service. He told of a time when he was asked if his time as a POW had any positive outcomes, and he remarked that it certainly had--it had prepared him for 55 years of marriage!
The Complete MAUS sometime last year when I saw it on a list of "must-reads" for high school students. My eldest is in 10th grade this year, and so my ears were wide open for more engaging books on important topics (his school's required reading seems to be very Shakespeare oriented--which is fine except for the fact that the imbalance means the kids are missing out on so many other wonderful experiences. It's up to me to make up for that! Good news for me is that my influence doesn't end after his senior year!) I'm still trying to get my 15 year-old to read this, but my then 12 year-old did read it and was greatly impacted.
Perhaps it is inevitable, more than 50 years after the Holocaust, to feel like you've heard it all before--though the story doesn't get old, when MAUS is lumped together with all the other books about the topic, this one doesn't feel quite as shocking, quite as big--but it is important nonetheless. To stop reading about the Holocaust is to say that these people's stories don't matter, that the people themselves don't matter. By keeping the story alive, and making it new for each generation, you are honoring the lives of all those affected by the trauma.
|(photo credit/more about Spiegelman)|
If you haven't ventured into graphic novels, this is a good place to start....combine some history with a new format and see what happens. The story is full of things to think about--more contemplative than shocking, more layers and depth than you might think.