Friday, September 26, 2014

Unbroken

What stays with you latest and deepest? Of curious panics, Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains? ~ Walt Whitman, "The Wound-Dresser"

A friend joined me at the cabin in Maine last month. We fished a little and talked a lot. I think we would both be considered "readers." I think we read fairly widely when it comes to genres. Through the years we have recommended books to one another and then enjoyed the deepening camaraderie that comes from discussing what we have read. Such conversations are sacred gifts. I've learned a lot from my friend, Hill.

While at the cabin, Hill insisted that I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (She also wrote Seabiscuit). It's about a forty-five minute drive to Bangor, and Books A Million, but we went, and I picked it up. Before I read a word, I knew Zamperini would find freedom, because he just recently passed away. But the POW's story took me prisoner. During our five days at the cabin, whenever we weren't fishing, kayaking, talking, or eating, I had my nose in the book. And by the light of a headlamp, as the sound of the Penobscot flowed by the front of the rustic cabin and owls hooted at the night, I read it with fascination. Each morning, as we sat drinking coffee, Hill and I would discuss it. Our conversations were often short, because the story is so overwhelming.

However, being the poster boy for ADHD that I am, and my constant practice of reading three to five books at a time, Unbroken became one of many in the fan-shaped half-circle of books that always cover any flat surface around me (I have three to five books going at three different locations in the house). Once I got home, my brain jumped the tracks and I never finished it.

Last week, Hill and I met for lunch. "Have you finished the book?" he asked. "Shoot! I put it down once I got home and haven't finished it." I told him where I had left off. "Zamperini is free." I said it in such a way as to suggest that I had probably read the best part. "It gets better." he said. "Not possible. He's been rescued!" was my response. "It gets better. Trust me." Hill promised. "Man, I need to get back on that book!" So I did.

It got better... I just finished it. Some of it through tears.

The dedication, six words on the white field of a single page, invites you into Zamperini's story: For the wounded and the lost. 

It's one of the best books I have ever read.  


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