Sunday, May 8, 2011

UNSINKABLE by Abby Sunderland


 A stirring narrative of Unsinkable tells sixteen-year-old Abby Sunderland's remarkable true story of attempting to become the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world. 

More people have flown into outer space than have sailed solo around the globe. It is a challenge so immense that many have died trying, and all have been pushed beyond every physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual limit. In Unsinkable, readers follow Abby Sunderland into those depths. This biography delivers a gripping and evocative firsthand account that starts prior to her departure, travels through her daring (and sometimes near-death) encounters on the open sea, to her dramatic rescue in the remotest corner of the Indian Ocean, and the media explosion that happened upon her safe return to dry land.

Along the way, readers discover what it means to boldly face any challenge, to strive after something great, and to plumb the depths of faith, fear, and desperation only to emerge changed, renewed, and emboldened. In this day and age, when the most productive thing a teenager may do is play videogames, Abby's ambition and tenacity is a real-life parable of what can happen when we choose to exceed our own limits, embrace faith, and strive after what all the naysayers say is impossible.

Unsinkable is the autobiography of Abby Sunderland—a 16-year-old young woman whose dream of sailing around the world by herself finally comes true. Normally, I don’t read autobiographies---they just don’t keep my interest. But when I read the overview of Unsinkable, I was surprised at how interested I was to read this book. I love to read about mature, courageous young people who have a clear goal and purpose in life. Many teenagers don’t have these traits and expect the people around them to hand them everything they need without truly working for it.

I enjoyed how the book was laid out—from three different points of view. The narrator helped by filling in the technical information and also giving background on media involvement, family history, and technical sailing information. Abby’s point of view is more detail oriented about how she felt during the preparation of the trip and the day-by-day experiences she endured. After the  grueling premature conclusion of her trip, there is also the point of view of view of those who helped save her. This is a unique way of putting the book together and it was just right for telling Abby’s story.

Abby is a lucky girl to have such a supportive family for her lifelong dream. There aren’t many parents who would let their child go into a feat such as this. Can you imagine sending your teenager out—alone—to navigate one of the most powerful elements on earth? The sea is unpredictable and volatile and there’s no control over its erratic behavior. I’m sure Abby was completely prepared for most contingencies, but let’s face it, you don’t know if you are until the situation arises. 

On the flip side, I’m sure her father was very protective and concerned about her trip. However, I got the impression that he subconsciously pushed her decision for the fame and notoriety that comes with such an attempt. He’d felt it before when his son made the same trip and it’s almost like an aphrodisiac—he wanted that feeling again. You could feel his ego creeping in to almost every decision.

I found the book mostly interesting but it was a very difficult read for me. I have no knowledge of sailing and even though the authors spell out many terms and technical points, parts of the book were like reading a manual. I’d start getting into a section of the book when the authors would throw in paragraphs to pages of detail and I would just zone out. 

You could tell Abby’s point of view was told by a typical teenager with the jargon & lingo inherent in a 16-year-old. I would have liked to have seen more in-depth, maybe spiritual (since they professed to have much faith) insights during her journey. Yes, the experience made her see she was strong and courageous, but what made that happen?

I’m going to give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The overall story was pretty good if you could get through the technical portions and the father’s desire for recognition. However, if you enjoy sailing or more technical reading, I think your rating might be higher.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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