For August, our book club read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit). The biography tells the amazing story of Louis Zamperini. He was born in Torrance, right here in Southern California, the second of four kids. He was a hellion of a little kid, becoming known as the neighborhood’s littlest thief. Seriously, my own little monsters are perfect angels compared to Louie. I don’t know how his mother survived his boyhood. He was constantly in trouble. Eventually his brother convinced him to channel all that energy into running, and he grew to love the sport, turning himself into a world-class runner.
*light spoilers ahead
But the most amazing and, frankly, unbelievable part of Louie’s life was the time he spent as a bombardier on a B-24 during WWII. He served in the Pacific, and was part of some very successful raids against the Japanese. But his luck would eventually run out. What follows is one of the most amazing stories of survival. Adrift at sea for way too long, and then a Japanese POW in some of their harshest camps, Louie would defy the odds of survival.
Any book detailing the heroics against the backdrop of World War II is heavy, but this book speaks to the amazing strength of the human spirit. It can be difficult to read at times, for the brutality and harsh conditions he endured are almost unbelievable. But, it is so worth the reading. Louie teaches us about bravery, nobility, and hope against hope.
Buy it here (affiliate link). Read it. And then see the movie when it comes out in December, directed by Angelina Jolie. I’ve already seen the first trailer, and it looks good.
Note: Louie Zamperini was slated to be the 2015 Rose Parade Grand Marshall, but at the ripe old age of 97, he passed away just a couple weeks ago on July 2, 2014.