I have preferred fiction over biographical books all my life. I find it very difficult to pick up a biography or autobiography and stay in it, but there are exceptions. Some biographers and autobiographers tell a true story so well that it pulls you along like a great novel.
My favorite biography in recent years is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, the bestselling author of Seabiscuit. The book description on Amazon describes Unbroken as . . .a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit. It is the story of Louis Zamperini, who had been a juvenile delinquent with a defiant nature. He directed that defiance into becoming a world-class runner, competing at the Berlin Olympics and coming close to breaking the four-minute mile.
Zamperini became an airman in World War II. His plane was shot down over the Pacific. Captured by the Japanese, he endured incredible conditions as a POW to survive beyond the war. Hillenbrand’s poignant retelling of his story pulled me along without hesitation. Her skill with this genre of books is extraordinary. It has 4.5 stars average on Amazon with 2,997 reviews. Almost all who read it find it amazing.
Like others who read Kindle books, I cruise the FREE lists each week for great reads and new authors. I use the Amazon review average scores and the written reviews to evaluate a book before downloading it. I noticed that many who buy our book, The Leopard Tree, also buy Jeri Parker’s A Thousand Voices. It has 24 reviews of a 5.0 star average, a testament to its appeal to readers.
This is the compelling story of a teacher who befriends a deaf boy who is both difficult and amazingly bright. The story is more powerful when you realize that it is Ms. Parker’s memoir. She became a second mother to this challenging child, finding that she received as much as she gave in being with him. She writes, . . . when his mother had troubles, I more or less stole him. Or that’s what I always said. He was the son I always wanted, and I did get him for a while.
Oddly the book begins with the death of Carlos Louis Salazar, the deaf boy grown up. You meet him through Ms. Parker’s vivid memory and engaging narrative about their entangled lives, dating back to 1964. Her honesty about her feelings and the up and down journey with Carlos is captivating. Jeri Parker demonstrates her commitment to Carlos at every step of the way.
I still like fiction more than non-fiction, but both of these rank among the best books I have ever read. They are available as Kindle books and I think they are worth the investment of your time and money.
– Tim Merriman