This is the best book I have read in a long time. And it is definitely the best non-fiction book I have ever read. Hillenbrand is the best storytellerThis is the best book I have read in a long time. And it is definitely the best non-fiction book I have ever read. Hillenbrand is the best storyteller - I love how she combined all of the event going on simultaneously in the world with whatever the main character was going through at the time. I can't imagine how much time she spent researching for this book. But the research is never really crammed in unnecessarily, and the footnotes were actually interesting to read. This is a book that anyone should be able to enjoy reading - even if you think war stories bore you to tears. This is just one man's story, and it is overwhelming to think there were so many POW's who went through similar conditions. I still agree with Tom Brokaw that this was the greatest generation....more
**spoiler alert** This was a book I could not put down! I wasn't so sure about it until I got about 10% into it. I found the narration through the chi**spoiler alert** This was a book I could not put down! I wasn't so sure about it until I got about 10% into it. I found the narration through the child's point of view to be very distracting. As a speech therapist, I couldn't help but analyze the language pattern. (and I know it is more of a thought pattern with the narrator than a verbal language pattern) I'm not just talking about making every item in the room a proper noun. (Rug, Table, Duvet) I'm talking about a few things like "waterfalling the milk" or "disappearing the trash." What? In some instances he has a more advanced vocabulary than most adults....and other times he lacks knowledge of basic verbs? He didn't have the language pattern of any language delayed child I have ever met - he was more like my adult patients who have had a stroke and have word finding difficulty. I finally decided I needed to just let it go and remember I have never worked with anyone who has been locked in a tiny room their whole life! Someone who has had such a limited scope of the world probably would have gaps in their vocabulary.
I'm just going to say it. The breastfeeding parts gave me the creeps. I can understand the mom is in such a helpless situation, she is providing comfort the best way she can to her child. But....I didn't need the details. "I kiss the left twice because it was always creamier." Gross. Blast me if you want to - tell me how some cultures breast feed til their kids are 97 years old...I don't care! That one sentence distracted me from comprehending the remainder of the book!
I didn't get the relationship between Ma and her mom. Maybe it wasn't described in more depth because it didn't directly involve Jack. But Ma's Mom felt a little distant to me. When Ma got the apartment, the Grandma was kind of like: Can I pick you up anything from the store? If not, I'm out of here. Got to get back to my hippie husband. Forget you, my daughter, who just emerged from a hole after 7 years. (By the way, I think Steppa was one of the most likable characters in the book!)
Ok, with all that being said....how did I give this book 4 stars? Because it was a book I couldn't put down all day. In actuality, the author did a good job of telling the story from a child's point of view. She didn't make the child annoyingly wise beyond his years. The escape was exciting to me - even if other people say it was contrived. My heart was racing during that part. The description of the room was perfect - I could really put myself there and see the worn cork and feel the "whoosh" when fresh air came in with Old Nick. As a person who is slightly claustrophobic and can't stand a locked door......it felt very real to me. I could totally understand Jack's drawing with all of the "space" drawn around him. I can't imagine the sensory overload after emerging from a tiny room like that. I will definitely recommend this book to other people! It really made me put myself in their situation, and that is what a good book is all about -transporting a person into the book completely.....whether it is a pleasant situation or not.