This book tells the story in five chapters. The protagonist of this book is Louie Zamperini who is the son of an Italian immigrant parents. There are two main settings where the story is woven around: Torrance, California and the war camps in Japan. Louie was introduced as a very naughty kid who always indulged into creating a ruckus in the neighborhood of Torrance. Soon he was recognized with his talent of running. In his childhood, Louie was an extremely notorious boy who started smoking, consuming alcohol and stealing food and money from the age of 5 (Margolick, 2010).
His talent was about to get lost in the series of his obnoxious behaviors. He shared a very loving relationship with his brother Pete who saved Louie from his criminal inclinations. With the help of Pete’s initiative, Louie got into the track team of the high school at the age of 14. Soon he was found winning all the college races. Louie earned a place on the Olympic track team of United States and participated in 1936 Germany Olympics. He got 8th rank in the 5000-meter finals, which seeded the dream of winning 1940 Tokyo Olympics (Kirsch, 2011). However, he could not realize his dream as he joined the army and The World the War II intervened.
This point bridges another different story of Louie. His plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. After he survived hunger and ocean waves for 46 days, Louie became the prisoner of war (POW) to Japan. He spent almost two and a half years at three different war camps and put up with extreme physical abuse. As the war reached its end, Louie was also released and he returned home. He reunited with his family and his wife Cynthia but he was going through post-traumatic stress order. The memories at the camps haunted him when his wife turned him toward Christianity (Smith, 2013). With the help of Cynthia, Louie finally succeeded in triumphing over his torturous memories and forgiving his torturers.
Hillenbrand penned down the real story of Louie Zamperini. He is a living survivor of World War II and an Olympic athlete who would not be forgot. The plotting is chronological with a few flashbacks and reflects the classical plotting style. The features that kept the readers enticed to the story are the narrative techniques. Hillenbrand, even before getting into the story-telling, provided the readers with a ‘Prelude’ where she only gives a glimpse of the entire story and left the readers hanging. This is known as the ‘cliffhanger’ technique (Margolick, 2010). The plot is fast paced and is full of recurring images that keep the readers anticipating the upcoming incidents.