Review: Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu

Product Details

  • File Size: 4394 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (June 12, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0061Q13V2
  • Genre:  Memoir


AT FOURTEEN YEARS OLD, Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the 1996 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team, the first and only American women’s team to take gold at the Olympics. Her pixyish appearance and ferocious competitive drive quickly earned her the status of media darling. But behind the fame, the flawless floor routines, and the million-dollar smile, her life was a series of challenges and hardships.

Off Balance vividly delineates each of the dominating characters who contributed to Moceanu’s rise to the top, from her stubborn father and long-suffering mother to her mercurial coach, Bela Karolyi. Here, Moceanu finally shares the haunting stories of competition, her years of hiding injuries and pain out of fear of retribution from her coaches, and how she hit rock bottom after a public battle with her parents.

But medals, murder plots, drugs, and daring escapes aside (all of which figure into Moceanu’s incredible journey), the most unique aspect of her life is the family secret that Moceanu discovers, opening a new and unexpected chapter in her adult life. A mysterious letter from a stranger reveals that she has a second sister—born with a physical disability and given away at birth—who has nonetheless followed in Moceanu’s footsteps in an astonishing way.

A multilayered memoir that transcends the world of sports, Off Balance will touch anyone who has ever dared to dream of a better life.

My Review:

I absolutely loved this memoir!! Everyone remembers the petite size gymnast bringing the house down with her floor exercises at the 1996 Olympics, dancing to “Devil Went Down to Georgia”.  However, to read about the dark secrets and her struggles that went behind closed doors is so daunting and traumatic for any child to experience.  We’ve all seen the news reports and watched the interviews about her long lost sister, Jennifer, which certainly added another whole element to the book.  However, you haven’t seen it or heard it all from those medial outlets, so you have to read this book!

In her memoir, Dominique really pours her innermost thoughts, fears, and questions about discovering she has a sister and what that meant for her (lost dreams of having a big family, family secrets, acceptance).  She also writes very openly about the traditional Romanian family she lived in and how that also added to some of the abuse she experienced while training as a gymnast.

While there have been gymnasts trying to dismiss some of Dominique’s claims to the darkness and lack of support that goes on behind closed gymnasium doors, no one can take away from her own experiences.  As a licensed marriage and family therapist, it is quite common for family members to express different opinions and have completely different experiences to the same situation.

So, no one can dismiss Dominique as she paints a very real and vivid picture into the struggles she endured, how she overcame them, and what she is doing now to help future gymnasts.  This is her story, her voice, her struggles and triumphs, and I truly appreciated her authenticity and genuineness in writing this memoir.

I highly recommend this book for anyone that enjoys reading memoirs, enjoys the sport of the gymnastics and the Olympics, as well as those who like reading about family structures and roles within each family.

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