Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Unbroken (copy)

This week I got my hands on Laura Hillenbrand’s new book Unbroken and do not want to take them off. So much so that I ignore phone calls and annoying text chats so that I can read to the end of a chapter. Somehow laundry has magically been sorted, cleaned, folded, and put away while I immerse myself in the events. Oops, I confess. I take my hands off only to chew my nails to the quick!

Hillenbrand’s name may sound familiar because she wrote Seabiscuit back in 2001 that became blockbuster gold two years later. During the 10 years taken to write this new book, she remained in her bed. She suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: possibly, choosing her subjects like racehorse Seabiscuit and foot racer Louis Zamperini as a way of vicariously exercising.

Unbroken begins with the ultimate in scary cliffhangers. Our running hero is lost at sea with two fellow crew members after the bomber they serve in crashes into the Pacific Ocean. Louis Zamperini is sharing a life raft with one serviceman while the other man lays tethered alongside.

During the 27 days, sharks circle and brush up against both rafts while they drift into Japanese-controlled waters. The men are burnt and displaying an odd color of yellow as their lifesaving floats deteriorates into a jelly-like substance.

The future looks gray until they hear the familiar noise of a piston engine. The men yelp and raise their arms to signal the plane as Zamperini launches two flares and pours orange dye into the water to attract the help. The plane passes by without acknowledging them.

But, wait a minute. It returns and begins to bank very low and close. Zamperini gets a good look into the man’s eyes before the plane opens fire on the stranded soldiers. All three jump into the water as their rafts take the pelting blows.

They pull themselves back into the one remaining raft as the plane circles for another run. Zamperini looks at the men and realizes they will be too weak to disembark for a second time as he enters the shark infested waters alone.

Argh! I will have to read 167 more pages to find out what happens because this is the opening preface! Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption delights.

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