Unbreakable: My Story, My Way

Unbreakable: My Story, My Way

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by Jenni Rivera

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A New York Times bestseller, this is the official biography from the beloved Mexican-American singer who lost her life in a tragic plane crash.

The only autobiography authorized by Jenni Rivera

"I can’t get caught up in the negative because that destroys you. Perhaps trying to move away from my problems and focus on the positive is…  See more details below


A New York Times bestseller, this is the official biography from the beloved Mexican-American singer who lost her life in a tragic plane crash.

The only autobiography authorized by Jenni Rivera

"I can’t get caught up in the negative because that destroys you. Perhaps trying to move away from my problems and focus on the positive is the best I can do. I am a woman like any other, and ugly things happen to me like any other woman. The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up."

These are the last words that beloved Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera spoke publicly before boarding the plane that would crash and cut her life short on December 9, 2012. However, they are not the final words that La Diva de la Banda had for the world. Those are found in the pages you hold in your hands, Jenni’s own account of the highs and lows of her extraordinary journey.

She became the most acclaimed Spanish-language singer in the United States and sold more than 15 million records worldwide. A single mother of five and grandmother of two, she was also an actress, a television producer, the star of her own reality show, and an entrepreneur. But for all its immense success, Jenni’s life often seemed to be a series of personal battles in which perseverance was her only weapon. As her fame grew, she made it her mission to speak about her struggles, forging an intimate connection with her fans. She became a figure of strength and a source of encouragement to women of all ages.

In Unbreakable, Jenni recounts the crucial moments in her past, revealing her experiences with domestic and sexual abuse, divorce, body image issues, making her way in a male-dominated industry, raising her children as a single mother, and learning that she could depend only on herself.

Though she is no longer with us, Jenni will always be the "Rivera rebel from Long Beach," the girl who maintained her sense of humor and fighting spirit in every circumstance. In this remarkable memoir, Jenni leaves behind a legacy of inspiration and determination that will forever live on through her precious family, friends, and fans.

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Editorial Reviews

Jenni Rivera's first recording was a teenager's birthday present for her father. By the time that she died in a 2012 airplane crash at the age of 43, this short-lived Spanish-language singer had sold 15 million albums and was a five-time double-platinum recording star. In this posthumously published memoir, she writes about her early life as the daughter of undocumented immigrants, her eventful performing and recording career, and her personal life. The latter was exceptionally painful: Her first husband was convicted of molesting two of their children; her second died tragically young; and she divorced her third spouse shortly before she perished.

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Read an Excerpt

Unbreakable 1 Aren’t You El Cinco’s Lady?
Ahora estoy, entre luces hermosas

mas cuando estaba sola, sé que Dios me cuidó.

(Now I am among the beautiful lights,

but when I was alone,

it was God who took care of me.)

—from “Mariposa de Barrio”

Sunday, January 26, 1997

The night began at El Farallon, a popular nightclub in Lynwood, California. El Farallon was where you went to hang out with your friends and get lost in the music, forgetting everything else for just a few hours. It was where I met Juan López, my second husband, after locking eyes with him across the dance floor. Most important, it was where many regional Mexican singers launched their careers. And it was where I decided to shoot my first music video, for my song “La Chacalosa” (The Jackal Woman).

My father had done business with the owner of El Farallon, Emilio Franco. Franco said we could shoot the video before the doors opened at 9:00 p.m. At the time, my dad, known to many as Don Pedro Rivera, was one of the biggest producers of regional Mexican music. He had always been my biggest supporter, especially in those early days when I was struggling to break out. He had plans to buy commercial airtime for this video to promote “La Chacalosa.”

I wasn’t making much money with my music. It was difficult to get my songs on the radio because I refused to fit into the mold of the typical Latina singer. I should have been younger, thinner, softer, quieter, dumber. In the Latino community, female singers were supposed to be beautiful and superskinny, and their music was supposed to be silly. Latina singers were meant to be looked at and not really heard. But I wasn’t eye candy. I was considered overweight. I was considered not to have vocal talent. And I was singing strong, ballsy corridos (folk tales, often involving drug dealers). I probably intimidated the men. No other women were singing corridos. It was like a woman rapping. Women weren’t thought to be tough enough, or real enough, to be singing about the gritty world of drug dealers. The people in the industry tried to make me change. If you want to make it in this genre, they said, you have to do this or that. A lot of women had to do sexual favors to get played on the radio. Fuck that. I wouldn’t do it. I wanted to make it based on my talent or not at all.

At the time we shot the video for “La Chacalosa,” I was working as a Realtor to support my three children and myself. Music was secondary. Juan López, the man I later married, was serving a seven-month prison sentence after being charged with smuggling immigrants. He was set to be released in three weeks. Because I didn’t want to be alone, my sister, Rosie, and her friend Gladyz came with me when I would go out at night for a music gig. On this night they sat in the nearly empty club watching me do several takes of the song. I thought we would be done by nine, but by the time we finished taping at around nine thirty, a few customers had started to trickle into the bar area. Before we left I went to the ladies’ room. As I exited the restroom, a man grabbed my right arm to make sure he had my attention. “Aren’t you El Cinco’s lady?” he said. El Cinco (The Five) was Juan López’s nickname. I distinctly remember looking into this man’s green eyes as he tugged roughly at my arm. He was making me upset and he knew it. “Leave me the fuck alone,” I told him as I broke away, wondering how he knew Juan and why he cared if I was Juan’s lady.

I picked up my things and walked out of the club with Rosie and Gladyz. I was in a bit of a rush because they were both still in high school, and this was a school night. I wanted to get them home as quickly as possible so we wouldn’t get in trouble and they would be allowed to hang out with me whenever they wanted. I was never one to have many friends, especially since Juan scared many of them away with his temper and his rude behavior. Now that he was incarcerated, I was a loner. Hanging out with the girls was fun and helped keep me busy until his release.

First I dropped Gladyz off at her house on Walnut Avenue in North Long Beach, then I dropped Rosie off at our parents’ house on Ellis Street, just a few blocks away. It was only 10:30, so we were in the clear. Once I made sure Rosie was in the house, I turned up the music and began the drive back home. I was living in beautiful, gangsteriffic Compton. Being a Realtor, I had bought a house there as an investment and decided to live in it for a while. It wasn’t the best neighborhood, but I was happy to have a place to call my own. I couldn’t wait to get to my bed that night. I was singing along to my all-time favorite CD, 15 Éxitos, by Marisela, as I drove down the 91 freeway west.

As I exited right onto Central Avenue, I noticed the car behind me flashing its high beams. It got closer and closer as I slowed down to see if I knew who it was. I didn’t recognize the small white sports car and I couldn’t see who was driving. The driver flashed his high beams again. What the fuck? Was I driving too slow? Did I forget to turn on my signal? Suddenly, the car sped up alongside my green Ford Explorer, purposely trying to sideswipe me. That’s when I realized not just one but three men were in the car, and I started to get scared. I sped up, hoping that they were just messing around with me. They weren’t. They would drive behind me, then speed up and try to run me off the road and into the parked cars on Central Avenue. “Shit. What the hell am I going to do?” I said to myself.

I was approaching my house on Keene Avenue and didn’t want these men to know where I lived. I was living alone with my three young children. Our house had been broken into just two months earlier, and everything had been stolen. That’s how the neighbors had found out that my husband was locked up and wasn’t there to protect us. All of this was running through my mind as I kept driving around the block, hoping these guys would magically disappear. My whole body was shaking. Finally, I stopped close to my house, though not in front of it. “Maybe they’ll just leave,” I kept saying to myself. How foolish.

Their car stopped behind me and I could see that the men were ready to step out. I didn’t know what to do, and fear took over. I decided that I would make a run for it. I would run as fast as I could, the way my brothers had taught me to when we played baseball as kids.

I opened my car door and started sprinting in my high heels, screaming at the top of my lungs. I did not look back. I could hear the sound of their boots running after me. I ran, I screamed louder. I cried. I prayed that someone would hear me. If they did, nobody came to my rescue. The boot steps were gaining on me. My high heels were slowing me down. Suddenly I felt two pairs of strong arms grab me. I had been caught. I tried to fight back. I kicked and screamed. I wasn’t going out easy. I was the gangsta bitch from Long Beach. The Rivera rebel who never lost a fight.

But I was outnumbered. One man had stayed in the car. One covered my mouth with his huge hand. One dragged me by the hair and pulled at my arms until I was thrown in the backseat of the car. That’s when I saw those green eyes again. The prominent chin. The man from the club.

He raped me in the backseat of the vehicle. Over and over he repeated the words I had said to him at the club: “Leave me the fuck alone. Leave me the fuck alone.” He mocked me as he raped me. As the tears streamed down my face, I decided not to fight back anymore. All I could think about was my kids. I was so afraid that I was going to be killed and they would be left without a mother. Maybe the men would let me live if I “behaved.” I felt that I was losing myself. I could feel the strength seeping out of my body and mind. I was afraid that they were going to take turns on me, but when the man was finished, he told his friend, “Throw this bitch out my car.” I silently thanked God as I was slammed onto the sidewalk, realizing that it was finally over. But the damage was done.

I sat on the curb, numb. I couldn’t cry. I was just relieved to be alive.

I vowed that I would never tell anyone of my shame. They say that when you keep a secret, it eats you up inside, but I felt that it was better that way. I wanted to appear strong in front of my children and my family. I didn’t want anybody to know. And I wanted to maintain my persona as Jenni, the Rivera rebel who had never lost a fight. But deep down inside I knew I had lost a piece of myself that I would never recover. My soul had been shattered, but to the outside world I did just as I had been taught since I was a little girl: I kept my head up and continued forward. It is, after all, the Rivera way.

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Unbreakable: My Story, My Way 4.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 95 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a must read. It inspired me and makes me look up to jenni. All she went thru and she still came on top. A true warrior.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book, i finished it in 2 days..it was that good. the only reason i did not give it 5 stars, was that the last chapter didnt give the details on why she divorced Esteban. On all the media interviews she always said that the book will say the reason of her divorce and it did not. Im pretty sure Jenni did write the last chapter and gave details  but Rosie obviously must have edited that part out. Other than that it is a must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was such an amazing book. I literally devoured this boook because I could put it down. It was that good. I'm a fan of Jenni's and reading this, it makes me happy that I becameher fan. Despite her flaws and hardships, she was a beautiful woman who got up even when hope seemed impossible. She was such a passionate, strong, and caring woman. She definetely did turned a negative into a positive. She deserved the recognition that she received because she really did work hard and endured a lot. What I like about Jenni is her bluntness and realness. She was never superficial, she wasn't those singers who were fake and changed their music and slept their way to the top to please the media like so many artists do nowadays. No, Jenni made it, even if it took her a long time, she still made it without losing herself. She was still herself, despite her astounding fame. She kept herself level-headed and grounded and never let it get to her head. She was a regular person who endured so much, whether it was negative or positive. Reading her story made me believe that she was here for a reason, that God had a mission for her, and she achieved that mission despite the suffering she had to go through. It was unfortunate that she passed away the way she did after all that she went through in her life. I only hope that she is no longer suffering and is at peace. This story is so powerful and probably one of the best autobiographies of a singer. It will make you angry, laugh, cry, happy, but most importantly, love Jenni for the way she was. Jenni showed us that life may not be perfect, but it's always good to stay true to yourself and always keep your head afloat even if you feel like sinking. Jenni also showed us that even when times get dark, you should never give up on your dreams. That is the legacy Jenni left and it will always be remembered. So I recommend this book. Even if you are not a Jenni fan, read it, because it will make you one for life and that's a beautiful thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel so close to her by reading the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book... could not put it down. Such a down to earth woman... any woman can relate to some aspect of her life. Special thanx to her family for sharing this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such an awesome book to read. I read it in one day less then 24 hours, that is how good it was. Chapter 1 set the mood for the book and gave you a look into how deep and powerful the rest of the book would be. Anyone that is a fan of Jenni Rivera must read it. And if you are not a fan also read it.  Jenni Rivera was a Mexican singer who came from humble beginnings. Her parents were illegal immigrants who came to this country in the 60's. They settled in Long Beach, California. Jenni Rivera was one of five children. Jenni Rivera overcame becoming a teen mom at the age of 16, domestic abuse from her first husband, rape, money issues, scandal  after being la reina de la banda. Jenni Rivera passed away tragically after her plane went down, killing everyone on board.  After reading her story it gives you a look into who she really was and what she did in this world. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is definitely the BEST autobiography I have read. Jenni Rivera kept it real when writing this book, it was so her! The hard things she went through were so sad but motivational at the same time. She made me laugh, and i really have never laughed out loud when reading a book, but this time it happened! I was also in tears towards the end... I loved it. I read on my day off the whole day, couldn't stop flipping pages. Miss you diva!!!
Worm57 More than 1 year ago
Very real She was very honest and simply wanted to tell her real story She will b missed......
Cynthia7752 More than 1 year ago
I LOVE her book. It reads more of a personal journal than anything else. To relive those moments with her were bittersweet. Loving her even more for her personal no bull persona. A def. must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had never listened to Jennis music however I was absolutely captured by her charisma when I caught a few episodes of her reality show-I then was so drawn to her warm and sassy personality -this book reveals all of Jenni and her truly touching life
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story of Jenni has helped many you abused women to seek help. Many things that we did not know about her came to light. She was a unique person. Onlything is this book feels like it left me at a cliff hanger and she still had more to say. May she rest in peace.
Martha_A More than 1 year ago
I love this book it is sad,funny,and best of all it is Jenni Rivera's life story about her up's and downs in life and how each time life through her down she managed to get up and back on her feet. A true example of how women have it hard in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
she's a true fighter! loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once I started this book, I couldn't put it down. She was a very misunderstood woman. I feel inspired by her strength and never giving up. I was hoping to have read about her decision to divorce her last husband, but I guess she was still legally married and was not finalized.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I finished the book in 3 hours. Good fast read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever Jenni Rivera Is my inspiration. She is a strong women a great mother a very loveable person. Love her so much look up at her every day
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was the most inspirational book I have ever read. Que viva la diva De la banda
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is truly my favorite book. The best book I've ever read I can somehow relate to Jenny because I like her got pregnant at 14 years old and was abused by that individual. Her stories made me cry and laugh love her sense of humor. Despite everything she went through she is a true warrior. I Pray to God you are now resting in Peace Mariposa De Barrio. We your fans love you 4 ever and viviras para siempre en nuestros corazones Reyna De Long Beach :)  Your book has inspired and motivated me to do something with my life and everything is possible with hard work and dedication
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book.. ive read it four times already
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one amazing book! Its a must read! My mom bought me the book and it so amazing! Im a fan of Jenni's work. She went thru so much in life. Trust me if u read this it will change your life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago