Thursday, May 5, 2016

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation) by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation) by Laura Hillenbrand
(Listening Library, 2014)
Read by Edward Herrmann
This title is a nominee in the 2016 Audie Awards: Young Adult Category

From Goodreads: On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary sagas of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he had been a clever delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and stealing. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a supreme talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war came, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and adrift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a sinking raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would respond to desperation with ingenuity, suffering with hope and humor, brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would hang on the fraying wire of his will.

In this captivating young adult edition of her award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a man’s breathtaking odyssey and the courage, cunning, and fortitude he found to endure and overcome.”

I’m such a fan of Hillenbrand’s books, and have yet to recover from when I listened to the unedited version of Unbroken five years ago. This Young Adult edition is less harrowing, abridging several of the scenes while the crew drifted at sea, and glossing over some of the bare horrors of Zamperini’s days as a POW. It’s still traumatic, of course, and inspiring and amazing, though I strongly prefer the original.

Edward Herrmann surprised me by droning a bit through this narration, reminding me unpleasantly of my high school history teacher just trying to get through the assigned chapters. I love his voice, it’s soothing and familiar, but this reading didn’t enchant me as I’d expected.

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