After Reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I finished reading Louis Zamperini's story today and feel rubbed raw emotionally. The story was powerful and well told, but by its nature painful.

I was riveted during the first portions of the book. There was a turbulent childhood, by dent of Louis' own personality, and the focus that running and becoming an athlete and an Olympian provided him. There was the beginning of the war, a successful mission, and then, following a failed rescue of a different plane, the long, long days at sea. The language was that of a reporter, not a novelist, but one who had delved into the minutest of details so that the scenes came alive.

And then Louis became a prisoner of war. And the clarity that enthralled in the first part of the book became more like shackles as he went from one camp and trial to another. It was horrible. The story, the reality, I mean, not the writing of it.

When the war was over and Louis came home it felt like this was the happy ending that would make the story movie-worthy. But then he suffered from alcoholism and disappointment and PTSD to a cringe-worthy point that put his baby daughter at risk. And I had to wonder how this could be considered "unbroken". How the optimist from the boat and the determined will from the camps could be this man consumed with vengeance.

There was more to come, that I hadn't originally expected. It was the self discovery that occurred during a religious experience that gave him the drive and tools to rise up and find his core self again, to the point he could forgive his captors and in future years build a camp for struggling boys and cultivate personal success in others, among other activities.

And then I could see it again, the core concept behind the title of the book, exhibited in one man's life.

I still don't want to see the movie. I don't want to put into my eyeballs realistic visuals of what the words depicted.

But I do recommend Unbroken as a powerful and well-written read.