Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

It was a hot and sunny day out on the endless ocean, but he definitely wasn’t enjoying it. It had been over a month since he had seen anyone besides the men with him. He had been drifting on his life raft for thousands of miles, and he was weak, starving, and helpless.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is the true story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic runner and later airman who served in World War II. Now I know you’re thinking, “Ugh, Bella’s buzzing about another World War II book, here we go…” and yes, I am obsessed with the World War II era, however if you do not read any of the other WWII books I have buzzed about, PLEASE read this one!

unbroken adult

When Louis was at his peak in his running career, he was drafted for World War II, and became a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Unfortunately, on one of his bomb squad’s missions, their plane was downed and most of the crew died, except for Louis and two of his crew members. The men drifted for almost two months, with little to no food or water. They were finally captured by the Japanese and taken to POW camp after POW camp, and were tortured by various Japanese generals. It wasn’t until after two years of endless labor and torture that the POW camp that Louis was located at was finally liberated.

louis zamperini

This book was pretty hard to keep reading at some points, just because of how gruesome and awful it was. Some of you will not want to read this book for this reason. However, if I may ease your conscience ever so slightly, you can read the original version, but then Laura Hillenbrand wrote a second version that was adapted for young adults. I read the adapted version, and I am glad I stuck with that. Based on what you think you can handle, you can choose your version.

unbroken young adult

One of my favorite parts of the book is Louis Zamperini’s perspective of D-Day. After hearing about the two years of endless torture that Louis and his friends endured, I almost felt like I was the one being rescued alongside Louis.

Unbroken is a really amazing book, and I really encourage everyone to read it at some point in their life. However, it’s pretty mature content, so I would have to recommend it to ages 11 and up, just because of the intensity of the torture and abuse at the Japanese POW camps. But overall it is an amazing story and has really given me strength and courage to face each day. It also really gave me perspective on my problems. If Louis can get through two whole years of torture, then I can overcome the challenges that I am faced with each day.

There is also a movie that is awesome that I also encourage you to watch AFTER you read the book!

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

She was in shock. Her mother was gone. Her brother was dead. And she was in a strange place that scared her.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak describes the compelling story of Liesel Meminger, and her hardships of living in the slums of Munich, Germany during World War II. When her mother is unable to take care of her, Liesel must travel to new parents that will take care of her- Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Hans is a kind old man with watery gray eyes, and Rosa is a gruff, plump, rock of a woman. This story tells of how Liesel adjusts to this new, rough life, and the people that cross her path. Then, a strange man, Max Vandenburg, comes into their lives. He is a Jew, running from the Gestapo, and looking for  a place to hide from the Nazis. As Liesel gets to know this strange man, she realizes how much they they have in common. They have both lost so much in their lives, and they find both themselves both in this same unfamiliar place.

liesel.meminger

Some of my favorite parts are when Liesel is actually stealing books, or when she is with her hilarious best friend, Rudy Steiner. Their relationship is the heart of the story.  This quote from the book is one of my favorites:

“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”

I also love the line when Death says, “The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

But really the whole book is amazing.

book.thief

I loved this book! Of course, I love all things related to WWII and the Holocaust, but the story itself is quite compelling, and it’s interesting to get the perspective of the average German people during the war. This book does include some mature content, so I wouldn’t suggest that anyone under 10 read it. It is also strange in the sense that it is written from the perspective of Death, so obviously it isn’t the happiest book in the world. Again, for those of you that aren’t a big fan of books without happy endings, this isn’t the book for you. But through all of this, it is an incredible, POWERFUL story, and I highly recommend it. Also, there is a movie, The Book Thief, which you don’t want to miss- AFTER you finish the book!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is a gripping story set during World War II, as the Nazis are killing the Jews by the thousands. Most of the German civilians are oblivious to what is going on, including Bruno, a nine-year-old boy whose father is a Nazi officer stationed at a concentration camp. To him, the Third Reich is saving the world from disaster. When his father gets promoted, Bruno and his family move to Out-With, a very dreary, desolate and boring place. When Bruno first arrives there, he sees many people in the distance, behind a very tall and sharp-looking fence. Who all have one thing in common: They are all wearing what Bruno thinks are striped pajamas. Bruno doesn’t know what’s really going on until he meets a Jewish boy named Shmuel, who opens his eyes to things that he never could’ve dreamed of. Things like discrimination, injustice and concentration camps. Bruno discovers the problems of the real world, and they’re shocking.

bruno

My recommended age group to read this book is ages ten and up because although Bruno is nine years old in the beginning of the book, there are still some pretty tough elements that can be hard to comprehend in this book. Also, The Boy in The Striped Pajamas has a very unexpected ending, so if you’re one of those people who always need happy endings, this is not a book for you. I, on the other hand, thought it was very powerful, and I thought that the ‘unexpected ending’ made the whole conflict seem more real and appalling to me.

My favorite character in this book was Shmuel, because his situation is very pitiful, but he’s also very mature, and he is a lot different from Bruno because he knows so much more about how the Jews are suffering.

If you are intrigued by Holocaust/WWII literature, this would be a good book to add to your reading list.