Tag Archives: auto biography

Unbreakable, by Jelena Dokic

Publisher:North Sydney, N.S.W., Ebury Press,, 2017.
Characteristics:310 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : colour illustrations, colour portraits ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors:Halloran, J

I remember Jelena’s father, Damir Dokic, when he was on Bourke’s Backyard, and he looked ready to explode at any moment. I’ve never seen Don Burke be so careful with a guest. This was a small sample of what Jelena’s father was like. 

Unbreakable is very dark in places, the abuse both physical and verbal is frequent and disturbing. Being a successful professional tennis player was not enough to stop it. It’s hard to comprehend how a father can treat his own child in such a way. Her mother was abused but it’s unclear if her brother Savo suffered the same fate.

Damir suffered abuse as a child, but mainly verbal abuse degrading his abilities and then later being a war veteran would not have helped his mental state. His behaviour is so crazy at times that I think he must have some sort of psychological issue. Tennis Australia did try to intervene with professional help but Damir refused, no doubt he thought he had no problems.

Migrating to Australia proved problematic, Damir could not get work and when he realised Jelena’s tennis talent he saw her as a meal ticket. Jelena needed her father’s keen knowledge of tennis to succeed. She missed his coaching but this came with a terrible price. His behaviour embarrassed her and impacted on Jelena’s relationships with her tennis colleagues. Being a migrant the local talent was jealous of the help she got, and this resentment was made worse for example, by Damir shaking the fence behind Jelena’s opponents when serving,

I couldn’t understand why Jelena always publicly defended Damir’s behaviour. I was hoping Jelena would rebel and get out of the situation, but she didn’t want to break up the family and she dearly loved her brother Savo.

She later on had trouble getting rid of Borna Bikic, a coach, who not only gave no advice but began dating a tennis opponent. I think Jelena is too “agreeable” for her own good. She needed someone to defend her but the one person, her father, who should have defended her, abused her. Jelena met her supportive boyfriend, Tim Bikic, the coach’s brother; so something good came out of the relationship.

Damir’s determined coaching may have helped Jelena’s start in tennis, but his abuse and many bad decisions severely hampered Jelena’s professional tennis career later on. 


A highly moving story about Jelena Dokic that gives the reader a behind the scenes view of a volatile father and a determined daughter. You just wish that it could have ended sooner for her. Highly recommended. 


Working Class Boy, by Jimmy Barnes

Sydney, N.S.W., HarperCollins Publishers Australia,, 2016.

362 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates

This book was released before Working Class Man and it would have been helpful to read it first.

It covers Jimmy’s early years beginning in Glasgow, Scotland and then moving to Australia. Life was difficult in both places but at least the weather was nice and warm in Australia.

His father was a well known boxer and both parents were accomplished ball room dancers. The father was an alcoholic and often he came home on payday with all funds spent on booze leaving nothing for food and other necessities for the young family.

Once Jimmy Barnes’ decided to move on it was uplifting to read how Reg Barnes made a significant difference to the family when he joined the family. He was the stable father figure that the family needed. Reg introduced music to the family with a piano and family singing sessions.

Overall it was a tough life for immigrants in the outer Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth. There was constant trouble and fighting, making it very similar to the problems caused and faced by the South Sudanese in Melbourne and possibly Australia today. It shows that settling immigrants has never been easy no matter where they come from.

The book ends with the beginnings of Jimmy’s music career covering a few gigs at the local venue in Elizabeth.


Working Class Boy is a good introduction to Jimmy’s life and to the next book Working Class Man. The second book is the better of the two I think, as amongst other things it covers the very colourful era of Australian rock in the 70’s.

Working Class Man, by Jimmy Barnes

  1. Working Class Man, by Jimmy Barnes


Published 2017. 490 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates

An interesting and uplifting read from Jimmy Barnes. It’s a sequel to “Working Class Boy” but you don’t need to have read it to appreciate “Working Class Man”, although some knowledge of Jimmy’s early background would be useful.

It’s a fascinating read into the Australian rock and pub band scene from the 70’s and beyond. Interwoven are many famous names of Australian music which shows how much musicians network throughout their careers.

You can feel Jimmy’s pain as he struggles with drugs, alcohol, family pressure and the gruelling touring. At the end there is Jimmy’s recovery with the help of his ever supporting family, his friends and his dogs.

“Working Class Man” is a fascinating insight into the behind the scenes of being famous, with a happy ending. A great read and excellent book. Highly recommended.