For me, one of the pleasures of a long road trip is always the chance to listen to an audio book on the way. For this voyage from Virginia to Maine and on to Buffalo and Hershey, PA, before returning home, I had to think for a while before I came up with a book I thought all four of us, two middle aged ladies, and two boys, 18 and 14, might enjoy.
As I browsed through the options, I came across Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who as an airman during WWII crashed into the Pacific and then spent 47 days adrift in a life raft before being captured by the Japanese and imprisoned. My friend Mary had told me what a great story it was, and it definitely seemed to have something for everyone in our group, so I thought I would give it a try.
We were almost to Connecticut when I made a general announcement to the van that all passengers would have to listen to at least two chapters of the book before putting in their own earbuds. Josh and Kyle were more than obliging, and the four of us were hooked long before we hit the detour at exit 30 on I-84.
The narrative is so riveting that we have listened to it all week up and down the country roads of Maine on our way to this or that beautiful place. We have also brought it up in conversation so many times, that this evening when I was helping with dinner, my brother burst into the kitchen, the NY Times website on his iPad. "Louis is dead!" he announced.
I was momentarily confused, but then I understood. At 97 years old, after all the trials he had faced, the hero of our story finally passed away peacefully at home in California. I felt a lump in my throat and goosebumps on my arms; it was as if someone I knew had died.
Rest in peace, Louie.