Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand


DownloadedFile-4My husband, the non-reader, was given an iPod Touch for Christmas and has embraced audio books, hooray!  His first book on the iPod was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  I read Unbroken with my book club last fall, so I was excited to be able to discuss it with him and get his impressions of it.

For those who don’t know, Unbroken is an amazing true account of the life of Louis Zamparini, a man in his 90s who was, among other things, a scrappy kid from Torrance, CA,  a student at USC, an Olympic runner, a WWII bombardier, a plane crash survivor who spent more than 40 days floating in the Pacific Ocean on a tiny raft, a POW in Japan, an alcoholic, a born again Christian, and a motivational speaker.  He met Hitler during the 1936 Olympics and met Billy Graham after the war.  I liken him to Forrest Gump.

Let’s just say I enjoyed the book much more than my husband did.  I was so surprised!  I mean, it’s a war book and a survivor book, guys like that stuff, right?!  But he felt it was too long and that there were just way waaaaay too many details about everything.  Details about planes, about weather, about the ocean, about the sky, about maggots in the food, about starvation and bodily functions.  Details about running and training and school.  Most of his annoyance, though, had to do with the abuse Louis Zamparini endured in the Japanese POW camps.  He felt that, if it were accurate, nobody could possibly survive it and live to tell about it.  He wondered if perhaps it was exaggerated, and we talked about memory and how a man in his 90s could recall in such great detail what had happened to him decades before.  I admit I wondered if there was some exaggeration in the book, too, but by all accounts the author did flawless research.  And, the old dude is sharp, even now!!  We watched an interview with him on youtube and he’s got to be the most with-it *nonagenarian ever (*that’s an old dude in his 90s, in case you don’t know that word).

The old dude

The old dude

Anyway, I’m just giddy that I was able to have an actual book discussion with my actual husband.  Friends, this has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE!  Hopefully it’s the start of a trend.

Does anyone have any good recommendations for my husband’s next audio book?  He hates accents of any kind, so the narrator must speak American English.  No Brits.  Leave me a comment if you know of a good one.  I don’t listen to audio books so I’m not sure what’s good to listen to.  He likes history, action, adventure, and anything that would be motivational/positive thinking (you can perhaps see why I thought Unbroken would be perfect for him?!)  Thanks for any suggestions you can offer!

Sunday Salon: my brief, intense relationship with My Name is Memory by Anna Brashares

It’s been a while since I completely gave myself and my entire day over to a book, but that’s what happened yesterday. My Name is Memory by Anna Brashares (of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” fame) winked at me in the bookstore so I picked her up and took her home.

We became fast friends in the early chapters, when Lucy, just a regular high school girl, notices Daniel, a mysterious newcomer. Daniel is not like the others, and before Lucy even has a conversation with him, she’s obsessed.  Chapters alternate between Lucy in the current day to Daniel, in the current day too but also going all the way back to his first life in 520 A.D.

Midway through the book we were BFFs, Memory and me, attached at the hip. Daniel, it turns out, is an old soul, centuries old, who remembers all his past lives. Lucy is an old soul too but doesn’t have the memory. Daniel has been chasing Lucy, who he calls Sophia, throughout time, and wants to find a way to convince her of the truth of that. She thinks he’s crazy at first but later she has a psychic reading that changes her mind. She also sees a hypnotist and then finds some physical evidence that makes it all seem possible.

I took a break for lunch and texted someone in my book club, telling them they had to check out my new favorite book, My Name is Memory. It had a Time Traveler’s Wife quality to it that I really liked; a little romance, a little adventure, with a splash of history.

Around page 300 we were in bed together, deeply and intimately involved and tuning out the rest of the world. Daniel and Lucy’s timelines were catching up to each other and beginning to merge and things were going along like a house on fire. I was beginning to get anxious because there wasn’t much book left. How in the heck was Brashares going to wrap this thing up? My reading deliberately slowed down as I desperately tried to savor it, make it last, but I could feel the whole relationship with Memory slipping away.

And finally, in the end.. WE BROKE UP and I threw that bitch across the room in disgust.

I have not been SO MAD at a book in a long, long time. How could Brashares build things up and then just STOP WRITING in a crucial part of the story? I felt so used, so mistreated, so unsatisfied. I don’t know if I can trust her ever again.

However, we may get back together at some point because I just learned My Name is Memory is the first in a planned trilogy.  Oh.  Maybe I overreacted, just a little.

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