In this captivating and lavishly illustrated young adult edition of her award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a former Olympian’s courage, cunning, and fortitude following his plane crash in enemy territory. This adaptation of Unbroken introduces a new generation to one of history’s most thrilling survival epics.
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 a drift 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.
Featuring more than one hundred photographs plus an exclusive interview with Zamperini, this breathtaking odyssey—also captured on film by director Angelina Jolie—is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the ability to endure against the unlikeliest of odds.
Praise for Unbroken
“This adaptation of Hillenbrand’s adult bestseller is highly dramatic and exciting, as well as painful to read as it lays bare man’s hellish inhumanity to man.”—Booklist, STARRED
“This captivating book emphasizes the importance of determination, the will to survive against impossible odds, and support from family and friends. A strong, well-written work.”—SLJ
“This fine adaptation ably brings an inspiring tale to young readers.”—Kirkus
|Publisher:||Random House Children’s Books|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||59 MB|
|Note:||This product may take a few minutes to download.|
|Age Range:||12 – 17 Years|
About the Author
Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Laura Hillenbrand
Laura Hillenbrand is the author of two blockbuster bestsellers, 2001’s Seabiscuit and 2010’s Unbroken. A brilliant storyteller, she brings her books’ subjects — Seabiscuit, a champion Depression-era racehorse, and Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who survived brutal treatment in a Japanese POW camp during World War II — vividly to life, an accomplishment that’s all the more remarkable given that for more than twenty-five years she’s suffered from a debilitating case of chronic fatigue syndrome that’s left her largely confined to her home. Delacorte Press has now published this young adult version of Unbroken, which includes the last interview Hillenbrand conducted with Zamperini before his death in July. I spoke to Hillenbrand by phone about adapting the book for young readers, working with director Angelina Jolie on the film version, and continuing to speak out about her illness. — Barbara Spindel
The Barnes & Noble Review: I reviewed Unbroken for the B&N Review upon its release in 2010, and I remember it well — Louie’s story leaves an indelible impression. When I read the young adult version in preparation for our interview, it didn’t strike me as very different.
Laura Hillenbrand: No, it’s really not.
BNR: I noticed some places where you might explain a reference — like when Louie was forced to shave his prison guards, you write that he gave one particularly cruel guard eyebrows like Marlene Dietrich’s, and you explain that she was a movie star with famously slender, feminine eyebrows. And the new version is shorter. But overall I didn’t feel like I was reading a YA book, which suggests to me that you were confident that young readers could handle the difficulty of the material. Can you talk about your approach to adapting the manuscript?
LH: I don’t have children myself and I don’t have a whole lot of experience with kids, and I was very mindful of that going in. I wanted to be sure that I learned from people who did know what they were doing. And so I talked to a number of teachers and middle school and elementary school librarians and some parents. I had questions like how graphic can I get in terms of what happened to Louie because of course some of the things that happened to him are quite brutal. I expected to get diverse opinions, but I didn’t. I got an almost unanimous response that young readers are really ready for that kind of thing. They’re studying things like the death of Emmett Till, a lot of tough things. So I really didn’t tone it down. I did shorten some scenes, just because this needed to be shorter. But I pretty much left in everything that happened to Louie.
There was one thing I took out, and that was another point of unanimity among the young reader experts, and that was the death of the duck Gaga, who was sexually violated by one of the prison guards. That was very painful for a lot of adults — I’d gotten a lot of feedback about that — and Louie said it was the worst thing he witnessed in the war. I thought of myself as a kid and I thought, that would be too hard for me because I love animals so much. Pretty much everything else stayed in.
BNR: Whose idea was it to publish a YA version?
LH: I started thinking about it because I was seeing other authors doing it. It was important to me that this story be known to young people. Louie was very devoted to teaching kids and to helping them be inspired about their lives and understanding how much potential they carry within themselves. He had this children’s camp that he ran, and he often spoke to kids. I had the idea and contacted him, and he was thrilled. I think it was the audience he wanted to reach more than anybody else. So we talked quite a bit about it and we did the interview for the end of it, which was the last interview I ever did with him. The things he had to say to young readers were great.
BNR: As a child, Louie wasn’t that promising. He was constantly getting into trouble, so the way he turned himself around and overcame extreme adversity might be of interest to kids, too.
LH: He’s not this model child that nobody can identify with. He was a kid with a lot of troubles, with very low self-esteem. He was bullied, he went through a lot of hard things, and I think a lot of young readers can say, “You know, that looks like me,” and then they can see “if this guy came from the place I am now, and look what he made of his life, look what he got through,” I think it’s going to be inspiring for young people. I really hope it is.
BNR: Was it difficult to make the cuts, or did you have an instinct about the appropriate length?
LH: I thought that cutting it in half was about right, and my editors agreed. I was a little concerned it might still be kind of long, but they were not concerned about that, and I didn’t feel that I could shorten his story any more than that. It felt right in the end, and when I finally got the printed copy, it looked right to me. I kept taking myself back to when I was 13 or so reading books — would I have picked up this book and read it? What impression would I have had of it? — and the size of it seemed about right.