This is my book review for Rafa by Rafael Nadal and John Carlin.
I was actually quite surprised when I read this book. I thought that it was going to be the typical birth to present autobiography but instead it was basically a replay of the 2008 Wimbledon Championship between Rafa and Roger Federer with personal stories in between.
The writing was done with two different styles. Every other chapter was Rafael writing about Wimbledon and telling stories about growing up playing tennis as well as sharing some family stories. The other chapters were written by John Carlin and he wrote about Rafael as if he was doing an article about him. He also shared some of the things that family members and other tennis players had said about him.
I really liked the format of this autobiography. It was something different. The 2008 Wimbledon Championship started at the beginning and you didn’t know the outcome until the end of the book, which wasn’t a surprise if you know anything about tennis or Rafael Nadal. I loved the little personal stories throughout the book as well. Some of the things I had never read about before so that was new information for me.
My favorite part was that he wrote about how he was feeling and what he thought about. You really get into his head and I loved that. I always wonder what tennis players are thinking about while playing, especially when it’s a final and Rafael did an incredible job depicting that in his book. It was like I was in his head while I was reading, I could really understand why he was thinking what he was and why he was feeling the way he was at certain points. I love when you can feel like you personally know the person you are reading about.
There were things in the book that I had never heard before. Things that made me laugh and cry. Some of my favorites were when Rafa says that he loves olives and that at one point when he was a kid he hid in a cupboard and ate a whole jar and then was really sick but it didn’t stop him from continuing to eat them. He talks about how he is afraid of dogs and other animals because they are unpredictable. He’s afraid of the dark and has to sleep with the television or a light on. He doesn’t like thunder storms or water if he can’t see straight to the bottom. His mother talks about how one of his biggest fears is of losing someone in his family and that he is a horrible driver because he is so cautious which I thought was hilarious. These things were all a shock to me because he is such a hard player when he is on the tennis court, you would never think that he’s a little bit of a wimp, which makes me love him even more.
I also liked that he wasn’t afraid to be a little overly personal because he is such a closed off celebrity. He still lives in Mallorca where they don’t treat him any differently, he actually says that it’s no big deal when he goes back home, it’s as if he didn’t win a championship. He’s very grounded and his family doesn’t let him let fame go to his head. They don’t throw parties when he wins and they don’t praise him up and down. He wins or loses and they deal with it and move on.
Another thing that took me by total surprise was that he said after he lost the 2007 Wimbledon final he went into the locker room shower and sat on the floor and cried for half an hour. I was not expecting that at all. He is such an amazing loser during any round, he always seems so polite when he goes and shakes the other players hand, he usually taps them on the back and smiles. I’m sure it’s heartbreaking to lose a match especially if you are close winning but he just seems so put together that I wouldn’t have expected that reaction. He does say that he didn’t cry because he lost but how he lost. He felt that he didn’t play like he should have, that he could have done better and that he made mistakes that cost him the title. I love that he didn’t blame anyone else and he never talked bad about any other player, in fact he did the exact opposite. He praised Federer and his playing and he said Djokovic was going to do amazing things in tennis and he said nice things about retired players.
This book was different from what I thought it would be but it was so amazing and I wouldn’t want it written any other way. I gave it a 5 stars on Goodreads and recommend it to everyone, especially those who love Rafael Nadal as much as I do, tennis or even celebrity reads in general. Definitely check it out.