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Breaking the Surface

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  779 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
This is a new edition of Greg Louganis's 1995 #1 New York Times bestselling autobiography and Literary Guild Selection. It is the unflinchingly honest first-person account of a man breaking free of a lifetime of silence and isolation.
Born to a young Samoan father and Northern European mother, and adopted at nine months, Greg began diving at age nine, and at sixteen won a
Paperback, 306 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Sourcebooks (first published 1985)
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Beyond the mists of prehistory, back when the 7.5 meter platform was made of giant slabs of rock and the 10m was supplied by the pate of a cooperative apatosaur, this reviewer used to fantasize about making it to the Olympics as a diver when he should have been doing his mat exercises.

One might think that most diving training is about falling but OH NO it's actually planted drearily on the sweat-pooling surface of dense coated rubbersmelly foam where you repeat ad infinitum the broken-down-into
Oct 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember watching the Olympics when Greg Louganis hit his head on the diving board. I remember feeling nauseated on his behalf, wondering what the outcome would be, and then watching him come back to triumph. It was a tremendous experience.

I read "Breaking the Surface" last night and this afternoon, wanting to know more about this athlete I remember from my childhood. It was saddening to hear about the abuse he suffered growing up, both at school and from his father, and how he never felt like
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Breaking the Surface is the story of one man's incredibly dysfunctional life. Greg Louganis honed a natural talent to become one of the world's best divers and Olympians. Unfortunately, until recently Greg's personal life was a serious mess. Throughout the book, Greg goes from one bad relationship to another, and seems basically incapable of taking care of himself or taking charge of his own life. He leaves most of his life decisions in the hands of others. He is incredibly naive, lacking in com ...more
David Jay
Full disclosure--I have been in love with Greg Louganis since long before I knew one man could love another. I bought his book when it first came out, amid an insane hailstorm of publicity and forgot to read it. Last week I saw a clip from the documentary being made about his life and remembered that I had this book on a shelf somewhere. Better late than never.

It is a very good book and Louganis is shockingly honest. He doesn't appear to sugar coat anything and makes every attempt to share his s
Tracy Walters
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book....Greg Louganis is now one of my personal heroes........he had such an extraordinary life yet he suffered so much took him years to deal with all the angst and I'm sure he is still dealing with it.......but he proved he had strength and integrity by doing what he felt was right for him and by putting forth the effort to help others who struggle as he does. What a great person he is......I am profoundly touched by him and his valiant fight for what he believ ...more
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AMAZING!!!! Also I kinda can relate a lot to his struggles with his emotions and relationships and the causes of that. It just hit a chord. And his diving is like watching an angel fly -- breathtaking!! Reading about the work behind it is both incredibly helpful and also something I can understand. :) I just adore his story!!! People who can't relate to him (either his devotion to diving and the work he put in, or the emotional journey he has taken over the course of his life) might not like the ...more
Eli Rigatuso
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
This book is riveting, heartbreaking, inspiring! Louganis is amazing and his book is a generous personal look into his life, love, heartache and freedom! This is a must read for everyone! There is absolutely no way you could continue to be prejudice after reading this book! The sad things is those who should read it will probably never pick it up!

Thank you GREG!!!

Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used to love him so much when I was little so I have a signed copy. Don't really remember much about the autobiography except the obvious things but it definitely holds a place in my heart.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Greg Louganis. This sort of broke my heart. What a tough life this guy had. I remember the 88 Olympics. I remember him hitting his head. I was 15, and I remember the footage, and how awful that wound looked, and how everyone was so proud of him for diving AGAIN after that. He was smart to open this autobiography with the story of that particular dive and injury, because it would clearly have been what ever reader would be focused on throughout the whole book. He's very upfront about it - not ...more
L Corky
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Silk
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Diving Is Easy, Life Is a Huge Hurdle,"

This is a very straight forward story of multi Olympic gold-medal winning athlete, Greg Louganis. His growing up had many obstacles such as having a stutter, dyslexia (which was not diagnosed until he was in college), and constantly trying to prove he was not retarded. Being darker skinned in an all white school subjected him to bullying and teasing. His report cards weren't good, but his gift of gymnastics and dancing resulted in rewarding achievements.
I owned this book for the longest time, but for some reason or another put off reading it. Not sure why I've always admired Greg Louganis...I'm not a huge Olympic follower, and I'm not into swimming as a sport. Perhaps my admiration for him began after he hit his head on the springboard during the 1988 Olympics in Korea, and much later hearing the news of his HIV status, which I could've sworn he came forth with immediately after his diving accident, but he came out in 1994. I think in this book ...more
Rom Gayoso
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is often the case we look at athletes and have a vague idea of the issues, sacrifices and challenges they have to endure in order to reach stardom level. Of course we only have some idea, but no first hand knowledge. I felt Greg's book breached the gap because he opened his heart and shared his life's challenges in ways I have seen few people do. I felt he did an excellent job dealing with so many complex issues while offering insights into his state of mind as he navigated through different ...more
L.R. Pardee
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two thoughts on this book. #1 That poor Greg Louganis had a really awful life--at least up to his mid thirties when he wrote the book. I just want to give him a big hug. #2 As the mother of a young diver I can now say that I have no wish for her to be an elite diver. That's probably a good perspective to have, and probably why the coach recommended the book. It wasn't the best written biography, surprising since he had a co-author he found through the publisher. Perhaps they wanted it to sound l ...more
May 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I imagine writing this book must have been a cathartic experience for Greg Louganis. I heard Greg speak in person last week during an LGBT event and he likened his secret of being gay and HIV+ to someone isolated in a remote island cut off from communications with the rest of the world. His story of depression, insecurity, equating performance with acceptance, and a deep hunger for unconditional love is the universal story of the human condition; gay or straight. But, struggling with one's sexua ...more
Dan Ford
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An astounding dive into a good mans soul

This book was well written but the primary reason for anyone to read it is because Greg Louganis allowed every reader entry into the essence of the man he is and more importantly the vulnerable person he has been. Most of us are still keeping the reality of who we are hidden but Greg shows us that is not the thing that we are meant to do. He continues to evolve into a better man and in the process into a much better soul. I love him for that special gift h
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book birthed my love of autobiographical literature. I read this book as a middle school child for an English project. What I remember is being overwhelmed with sadness for what Greg went through as a child. I remember feeling the fear of him living with the secret of his HIV status. Then as any great book does it turns the corner and you celebrate his victories. To this day he is still one of my favorite Olympians.
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Greg Louganis began diving at age nine, and at sixteen won a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. But despite his astonishing athletic skill, Greg struggled with late-detected dyslexia, prejudice toward his dark skin coloring and anguish over his homosexuality, which he felt compelled to hide. However, Louganis went on to win double gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. His triumph at the 1988 Olympics came several months after he tested positive for HIV. Inspiring book.
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Del Zimmerman
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I re-read Louganis' biography after having done so right after its itinitial publication. I was so young when it was first published, I didn't fully understand the trials and tribulations of this star athlete. I discounted his lack of self-esteem and his fear of living with HIV. Reading this book now (at age 37)has had a much more profound effect on me. Greg is truly one of my heroes and I am glad he is still with us today.
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Greg Louganis was truly an amazing athlete. His story of his struggles with an abusive childhood, depression, HIV, and his sexuality was very saddening but humbling. His ability to overcome all of these things along with hitting his head and battling back to win an Olympic gold medal is something that only a few people in the world could manage.

Kathy  D.
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, 2014
I had wanted to read this for a long time, but kept grabbing other books. It was interesting,but very sad. His life was certainly different from his public image. The only downside is that the book was written 20 years ago, so there's a lot not covered. It was easy to read and fairly entertaining, although he tended to go into minute detail about some of his dives.
Lisa Currier
Always liked Greg Louganis, but had never read his book, but knew a little about his life. Picked up the book last month, and finally read it. The book is very honest. Looking in people probably thought Greg had a charmed life, but that is not true. He was very honest talking about his depression, his insecurities, his relationships. Very insightful read.
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was really interesting. I like it because I was interested in the story of Greg Louganis. (I also read it cuz it was one of the books Allyson could find quickly for me to read just after we'd moved and I was bored.) But, I found the book kind of simple - it's all told in first person and there wasn't much I don't know...depth? to it.
David Little
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in HS before I fully understood what it means to live an open gay life. I was out sailing with my Dad and I was reading the book....he asked- and it opened a good, honest conversation about me being gay. It was good with my Dad then, and it is still good today. Louganis is a well of inspiration. I just love him- -and stalk him on Facebook.
Michael J. Fullerton
Awesome book for everyone!

I am a gay man who didn't come out till I was 55. I have had many of the same problems that Greg had. I have many blessings, good family, good friends, and I am HIV-.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read, although parts of it are sad. It's amazing how resilient and courage Greg was throughout his journey. I remember when I was diving in the same AAU meets with Greg and Cynthia Potter. Didnt know what would have become of them! Kudos to them for their success!
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being only familiar with his persona as Olympic athlete, I found the story of his life surprising. I had no idea he went through such difficulty. I appreciated his openness and honesty in sharing his life story. His hope that doing so could possibly help others is inspiring.
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a heartbreakingly vulnerable biography! Greg tells his life story--which includes the ups and downs of an Olympic level athlete, depression, suicide attempts, being gay, abusive relationships, HIV and AIDS, etc. I think it took a lot of courage to write this book.
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