Unbreakable by Jelena Dokic with Jessica Halloran – reviewed by Celine
Published: Ebury Press (Penguin)
Date of publication: 2017
Genres: Autobiography, spiritual, true story
Be prepared for a story of horror and violence if you plan to read this book. Well written and easily readable, it chronicles the first 27 years of Jelena Dokic’s life. The chapter titles are self-explanatory, taking you through a shocking and unpleasant journey of a fear and abuse based life, with the repercussions speaking clearly to those who would listen. Jessica Halloran, a senior sports writer with News Corp, helped Jelena to put into a fast paced narrative and short-clipped observations, her tale of constant fear, of strength and tolerance; and of fighting to the brink of near disaster.
This autobiography consists of 307 pages of 22 chapters and includes photographs of Jelena from the age of 6 in 1989 in her home town of Serbia, to her tennis practice sessions at the age of 27 in 2010. I read this book in 4 days – once you start reading it, you are anxious to know what happens.
Jelena and Jessica narrate Jelena’s tennis training, practice and play, weaving in the off-court life that the young Jelena endured. Throughout it, the candid thoughts of a child and young person who deserved much better treatment, are peppered, making a distressful back-ground to the narrative.
The last 9 chapters from Chapter 14 chronicle Jelena’s years after leaving her abusive father in 2002 detailing a series of facts that immediately paints a very sad ethos – with the implicit knowledge that there is no turning back for Jelena Dokic. I was glad to finish reading this book which may well leave tears in your eyes, because I wanted reassurance about the young Jelena’s fate.
Upon being interviewed about why she wrote her autobiography, Jelena reiterates that she does not want people to feel sorry for her, or for her story to be seen as an exercise in blame.
“I don’t want pity. I’ve overcome this. I’m not complaining, this is about helping people,” she says.
If this book raises awareness in many about the need to take more steps or more pro-active support toward young people who obviously are being physically and / or mentally abused, then Jelena’s work in writing her autobiography, is done.
Jelena also wrote the book to reveal the truth, given that her father had led a web of deceit and lies around her. You may, like me, recall the absolute haunted and fearful expressions on the young Jelena Dokic’s face in public – and may wish more had been done to help her back then.
On the positive side, Jelena (born 12 April 1983) has an indomitable spirit which she used to survive, and is using to set up a Foundation targeted towards raising awareness about domestic violence and abusive relationships. She now works as a sports commentator, a coach and a motivational speaker.
This book leaves a long lingering thought and feeling with the reader about our choices and about the consequences of abusive relationships, and hopefully inspires people to take the action that they can, to stop family violence.
If the word “inspiring” is used for the effect of this autobiography, then I hope that readers are inspired or motivated to tell the truth about Jelena Dokic’s life – to help “clear the air for Jelena herself” and to galvanise people into spirited action to genuinely help others.
Look inside the book on Amazon for the Chapter titles – Link above