He really was a trouble maker. If there ever was a kid that was destined for juvenile hall, it was Louis Zamperini. If it wasn’t nailed down, he had no problem stealing it and even if it WAS nailed down, he’d bring a hammer and pry the nail out! His mother despaired of him ever amounting to anything. That was until his older brother, Pete got him into running. By some luck, Louie loved running. And not only did he love it, but he was good at it. So good that by the time he was out of high school, he had his eyes on the Olympics. He just missed a spot in the mile, but then decided to try his legs at running the 2 mile. He was so fast at that, he made the Olympic team.
While Louis didn’t metal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he knew that he had what it would take to come back in 1940. However, in 1939, the world was caught up in World War II, and Japan withdrew as the host of the Olympics. Louie was heartbroken. However, he decided to join the Air Force and after Pearl Harbor was bombed was sent off to learn how to be a bombardier in a B-24 plane. It was Louie’s job to drop the bombs over the correct targets. His plane’s was nicknamed Superman.
One day Louie and his pilot – Phil – were ordered to go on a search and rescue mission in another plane that had the nickname the Green Hornet. Superman had been terribly damaged in a battle and so wasn’t available for them to fly. As Phil, Louie and the rest of a motley crew of airmen flew away in the Green Hornet, they had no idea it would be the last flight for all but two of them.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (the adapted for young adults edition) is a gripping tale of what war time is really like. Not only does Louie’s plane crash in the Pacific Ocean where he undergoes extreme thirst and hunger, but he and Phil are captured by the Japanese and endure unimaginable horrors in their prisoner of war camps.
Anyone interested in World War II, prisoner stories, survival stories, or just an amazing story will be captivated by this book.
Recommended for 8th graders and up due to the details of torture in this book.