Have you ever felt like you were late for the party? Maybe others were talking about it, but somehow you never got the message or heard the buzz. When you finally do get a clue, you wonder to yourself, "Where was I? How could I have missed it?"
That's the way I felt after reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand this past summer. As the award winning author of Seabiscuit, she once again has taken a true story, and turned it into a page turner that is hard to put down. Since the movie Unbroken will be coming out in December, can I just urge you to read the book first? I don't know about you, but for me, the book is almost always better than the movie. Somehow our imaginations as we picture scenes and events through the written word seem to trump Hollywood's depictions!
What I love about Laura Hillenbrand's writing is that she tells the back story of each main character and their families, so we begin to feel almost as if we do really know them. In Unbroken, the central character is Louie Zamparini, an incorrigible young lad who becomes an Olympic runner in the 1936 Olympics. As you may recall, those same Olympics are highlighted in The Boys in the Boat. Louie's running career is cut short by WWII and he begins the adventure of his life, serving as an Army Air Corp bombardier.
From his battle experiences, to having his plane shot down and drifting for days at sea, to his capture by the Japanese, his resilient spirit shines through. His story would be difficult to read and not come away feeling inspired...or leave with the sense that our own trials seem relatively light and momentary. The things Louie experiences as a POW are almost incomprehensible, yet he survives. Upon his release, he is tormented by nightmares and flashbacks, until he finds redemption...not in Cynthia, the love of his life, but in the One who could help him forgive those who had tortured him and give him a peace that passes understanding. It's quite a story...I encourage you to read it.
Though I do look forward to seeing the movie of Unbroken when it comes out in December, I must admit that I have my doubts that Angelina Jolie, the director, will tell Louie's whole story. I hope she will...yet Hollywood tends to put Christian faith and those who seek to follow it in a poor light these days. Yet, Louie made an indelible impression on Angelina's life, and on the author, Laura Hillenbrand's life. When Louie Zamperini passed away, just this past July of 2014 at the age of 97, Laura wrote the following words:
The news of the shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School, our neighboring community to the north, took us all by surprise this past Friday. Like the shooting last spring at SPU, young lives were lost and the survivors and bystanders were impacted, probably for life. Our world feels so broken...and I am not convinced that new gun laws will solve the issues. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the shooting...such a deep tragedy. Perhaps we can learn something from the life of Louie Zamperini, who forgave his tormentors and looked to the only One who truly can give us hope, comfort, healing, and redeeming love...so we too can be unbroken and a light in a dark world.