Breaking Back | Teen Ink

Breaking Back

December 6, 2007
By Anonymous

My fellow students and teachers, of all the books I read this summer, Breaking Back is my favorite. I chose this book because it is based on the life of James Blake, a world-class tennis player and academic role model. While attending Harvard, Blake won the NCAA tennis tournament for men's singles, the most coveted title in college tennis. Currently, Blake is ranked number six in the world. Although this book begins with events taking place in December of 2003, it covers the life of James Blake from birth to current day.

The book Breaking Back is written in a very peculiar way. Rather than a typical autobiography, informative and monotonous in nature, Blake writes a story about his life. Due to the brilliant way in which it is written, the words simply flow from one page to the next making it an entertaining and easy read. His words create a visual and vivid picture of the events taking place and the reader yearns for more. Although at times the subject matter is both debilitating and difficult to fathom, his writing is never disappointing and is strangely optimistic.
Throughout the book, the author utilizes meaningful quotes to set the tone for each chapter. These quotes are inspirational in nature and were said by some of the most notable people to have ever lived. Although Aristotle, John Lennon, and Arthur Ashe may not have much in common, their words apply to everyone in any walk of life. Blake uses their words to introduce the events of his life. The lessons learned within these pages
have less to do with tennis than with tenacity. The book shows that by overcoming great adversity, one can achieve great rewards.
The saying what doesn't kill you makes you stronger is definitely one that can be applied when talking about James Blake. Even those who do not enjoy tennis must still admire Blake's story. Blake overcame several horrible obstacles all in a short span of time throughout 2004. While practicing for the Masters, which would be held in Rome that year, Blake fell into the net post and broke his neck. As if his situation was not bad enough, later that year his father died from stomach cancer. At the same time, Blake developed shingles, which paralyzed half his face and blurred his vision.

The title Breaking Back is without a doubt a fitting one for the book. If one loses a service game in tennis, that player has been broken and the only way to win the current set is to break back. Against all odds, James Blake broke back from every obstacle he faced and regained his position at the top of the world tennis ranks. Blake chooses to persevere in spite of great hardship. The tone of the book is both optimistic and inspirational. James Blake has written a winner. Everyone will benefit from reading this outstanding autobiography no matter student, parent, or teacher.

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