I was really not sure I was going to make it through this one, but a dear friend encouraged me to complete it and I’m glad I did. This true story is at once disturbing and inspiring, hard to believe and hard to endure. It is the story of Louie Zamporini, who was an Olympic track hopeful who was drafted into the Air Force, based in Hawaii during World War II. From a downed plane, to weeks on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to being captured as a POW by the Japanese, his journey took him through years of torment and torture. Survival was a mixed blessing and his journey afterwards through PTSD brought him eventually to a place where he was able to confront his past and come to terms with it.
The story has parts that are relentlessly heart-wrenching and depressing for the reader. I nearly gave up because I felt I couldn’t bear to read it anymore. In fact, I downloaded another, mindless book to read to distract myself and lighten my heart a bit. I did return to it, though, and I am happy that I did.
What is so inspiring about this story is not only the bravery and the tenacity with which the POW’s lived through their experience, but also the ability to ultimately forgive and relinquish the hatred of the enemy. I only read about their experiences and I have trouble forgiving the individuals responsible.
This is a painful, torturous book but it does inspire and give hope of healing. Not advised if you have a weak stomach, though!
P.S. The movie, directed by Angelina Jolie, comes out in December!