If you are in any way a fan of Ian Thorpe or swimming I would recommend this book. If you are looking for a juicy salacious tell-all, this is not it. Also, you cannot really read this without knowing anything about swimming or his career, but then I doubt you would be interested. However, if you are, just read his wiki page and that should be sufficient.
The book is organized in a diary format in the year leading up to the Olympics. Each entry starts in the present-day struggle to earn a spot on the Aussie Olympic team, and then it reverts back to past memories or his personal ideas or beliefs on issues. The flashbacks are not in chronological order which I suppose is true to how a person looks back on past events, but it can be a little confusing at times. It's easier to read if you take each chapter at a time and don't try to organize it in your head like I did. The transitions from the present day to past events made me keenly aware that this was written by two writers. I imagine Ian kept a diary, and then very separately wrote about past events and the professional writer put it all together and published it in three months. So, like so many books now, it was rushed, and while clearly very edited, there are some grammatical errors and a lack of fluidity. This is why it lost a star for me. Either keep it real and rough, the way a diary is written, or make it perfectly professional. This was very much in between the two.
I will say the honesty throughout is really refreshing. You get a very good sense of what it must have been like to be a a champion at such a young age and the pressures he has lived with all these years and again with his comeback. He clearly is a very sensitive and private person and, as a long-time fan, this is his most revealing project. This might be the first time we get a real sense of who he his. The problem, of course, is he still is that private person. Unlike many other athletes's memoirs, some private issues are addressed but still glazed over or kept vague. I am not really holding the book against it, but it's important to know if you read a lot of autobiographies. I would not call it a tell-all. The exception I would say is the now famous excerpt on depression. This was very raw and honest and deserves the attention it is receiving.
~The following is truly personal opinion that did not factor into my review.
He's gets annoyed but not angry, happy but not overjoyed. The anxiety seems to be the strongest emotion he feels in his comeback, and overall I was left with a feeling of sadness, which I can't completely explain. It is extremely rare that a very shy, sensitive person would become a famous athlete. This I think it what made him and continues to make him so interesting. However, those personality traits are disastrous combined with massive media attention and scrutiny. You receive a huge sense of this in the book. We are told he found the joy in swimming again, but there is not a lot of joy in this book. There is clearly still a Part II to his life which he hasn't even begun, and I hope he finds more happiness there.