This is a coming of age novel about Danny Kelly. We are introduced to Danny as a young adolescent with a remarkable swimming ability. He dreams of becoming an Olympic gold medal winner for Australia.
It's hard to enjoy a novel where the main protagonist isn't a likable character. Danny is self centered and arrogant with a chip on his shoulder. He's from a middle class family and gets a scholarship to a prestigious high school for his swimming. He's confident as a swimmer but outside of the pool his arrogance stands out. As in many private schools, there is teasing and bullying. Danny receives his share of this with haughtiness and vows to show everyone when he wins the Australian under sixteen swimming competition.
The story moves between Danny's high school days and his adulthood where he's attempting to put his life together after a major incident with the law. Can we relate to Danny? I didn't but the author presents Danny as having only one chance to succeed in life and that is through his swimming.
There is a competition and the parts of the story leading up to the competition are well done. There is success and then failure. The reader can observe this and understand why so many people who had great success in high school, do not succeed with the rest of their lives.
Finally, he realizes that there is more to life. He meets a cousin who has a brain injury and he sympathises with the cousin and befriends him. Thus, from the ashes, a sincere character is born.
I had difficulty following the story because the author jumped from Danny's adolescence to Dan's adulthood in a manner that was difficult to follow.
It was gratifying to see Dan as a person in his thirties when he took responsibility for himself and had compassion for others. He proves to be a worthwhile person. It just took a long time for him to achieve that status.