Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a true story about an Olympian that becomes a prisoner of war during Workd War II. This book is such a great depiction of the power of perseverance and the strength of a person. In the beginning of the story, the reader meets Louis Zamperini, a young and reckless boy from an Italian family. Louis is always getting in trouble but with the help of his older brother he is able to turn his reckless angst into skill by becoming a star on his varsity track team. Booming with natural talent and passion, Louis trains and eventually goes to the Okympics. What is so great about this story is that it is less about Louis as an Olympian and more about his character over all. After he goes to the Olympics he enlists and his plane is shot down in the pacific. Louis and his two comrades are forced to endure hellish conditions and excruciating elements for a total of 47 days before being captured by the enemy. The time he spends in the pacific is some of the most beautiful writing in the book because it shows the transformation of Louis into the person he will be for the rest of his life, his reliance on faith, and his determination to live. When he is taken as a POW he is singled out because of his status as an Olympian. Refusing special treatment, he endures brutal punishment at the camp further proving his will to persevere. Louis becomes the target of a military leader called the Bird, who tortures him mercilessly while he is moved from camp to camp. Consistently demonstrating his drive and passion for life he eventually lives and is freed. The end of the book is concerned with Louis’s ability to let go of the pain he suffered from in war and continuing his life now that he is free again. 

Overall this book is an amazing lesson in human strength and the fact that it is true makes it all the more impressive. I would recommend this book to anyone and will certainly carry the lessons it teaches with me.


Looking For Alaska

Aside from the unintended snow reference, the perfect picture to synthesize the message of John Green’s Looking for Alaska is a shot of a beautiful snowy street. While there are many different moral lessons, meanings, and messages in the novel one that really stood out is the idea that something can seem simply beautiful while really existing as a much more complex conundrum. The character Alaska is so alluring to Miles because her beauty and lively personality excites him. He almost falls in love with the idea of Alaska much in the same way people romanticize snowy days (“Winter Wonderland” for instance). While a snowy day may seem perfectly beautiful from a distance or from inside one’s warm home, in reality snow does a lot of damage, ruins plans, alters schedules, causes accidents, creates panic, and it is not even sustainable for humans to exist in for a long period of time. In the same way, Alaska may look stunning, and her troubled past may seem like somewhat of a beautiful darkness but in reality it is actually much more complex and leads to her downfall.

Port Chicago 50

The Civil Rights Movement was a long and slow process which was confronted with challenges from several different angles. After reading Port Chicago 50 I thought about how the incident at Port Chicago and the trial that followed sparked interest in civil rights, especially as it related to the treatment of African Americans in the military. I chose to symbolize the events of Port Chicago 50 with the picture of a small sapling breaking through concrete because it represents a how a force that is strong, like nature, can push through opposition and hardship. I felt that the Civil Rights Movement was a slow moving process that required a great deal of patience from African Americans who wanted their equality. In Port Chicago 50 the men accused of mutiny had to be patient throughout the court case, during their unfair prison time, and after the case as the Civil Rights Movement continued. I think that the symbol of a new born tree is a strong metaphor for the Civil Rights Movement because thought it may seem weak, the fact that it can grow and thrive in the most unlikely places shows that it is strong and will not go down without a fight.

Photo Attributed to : Ray_from_LA on flickr.com

Picture Citation: CC BY-SA

A Few Words on “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”

This book, by Sherman Alexie, is a great coming of age story about identity. The main character, Junior as he’s called on the rez or Arnold amongst the “white kids”, is very relatable because he is funny in his delivery and honest in what he says. Although he is younger than I am he speaks with maturity and the times that he does not (such as his incessant hormonal debacle), it was easy for me to identify with what he goes through because his experiences are common to most adolescents. I really enjoy how the book does not tell the reader how to feel but instead presents the reader with the raw happenings of Junior’s life, which ultimately leads the reader to draw his/her own conclusions from the novel.

It is extremely interesting to see how Sherman Alexie handled the issues of race and poverty in the story because often those topics are watered down when being delivered to young adults. Sherman Alexie does an amazing job of truthfully depicting the hardships Junior faces and the pure thoughts that he had during his transition from the rez to Reardan.

The development of Junior’s character through the use of his cartoons also offered a way for the reader to get to know Junior outside of his words (which he mentions in the story was his very point). Throughout the story his character developed and so did his relationships, something I think that most young adults experience in high school. Both the characters of Penelope and Rowdy were so deep and dramatic the reader feels a connection to the book that allows him/her to take from it what they feel applies to his/her own life and circumstance.

Picture Citation: CC BY-SA