More than a book — a wonder

Maybe it’s odd for a young girl to read novels of WWII, but it wasn’t for me. I’ve been fascinated with the era since I was a child and pored over a coffee table book we had. It wasn’t about the battles or the politics or the progression of the war, but the human aspect. The men and women who didn’t hesitate to leave their world behind when duty called. The people on the home front who supported them. The fat drives and metal drives and rubber drives. The Victory Gardens. The rationing. The Rosie the Riveters. The leg makeup in lieu of scarce nylons, complete with a seam you drew up your leg yourself. The service stars in nearly every window. The boys in Germany, the Pacific, Italy, Africa. The WACs and WAVES. The sheer magnitude of the effort.

This was the story of my parents, my aunts and uncles, my very own representatives of The Greatest Generation. They lived it, and it amazed me.

I went on to read many novels about the war — Tales of the South Pacific, King Rat, The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, Time and Tide, Gone to Soldiers, The Hiding Place, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, The Caine Mutiny. When I heard about Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, I knew I had to read it. Ever the cheapskate, I hemmed and hawed and ended up buying it as a gift for my brother, knowing he would appreciate it and I would get to read it eventually.

It is, quite simply, spectacular.

The subject, Louis Zamperini, is a man that defies adjectives. Amazing? Astounding? Incredible? Inspirational? All of those things.

As my brother aptly put it, “If you didn’t know it was a true story, you’d never believe it.”

Frankly I can’t believe I’d never heard of this man or his story before. I won’t recount it here — other reviews have done it well. And Laura Hillenbrand? Just so gifted. I am humbled by her skill. I can’t wait to read Seabiscuit now.

Be warned, it’s not an easy read — so brutal at times I wondered if I could finish. (Thank God the name of the book is what it is.) I actually put it aside for a couple months, mostly because life and the events of this summer overwhelmed me. But I was glad to pick it up again when I was ready. It’s a book that deserves to be read. A story that deserves to be known.

I hope you’ll read it, and marvel. (And if you already have, did it astound you, too?)

If you’re going through hell, keep going.
~ Winston Churchill