I remember watching Dominique Moceanu, along with her gymnastic teammates, now known as the Magnificent Seven, take the first and only gold for an American women's team, at the 1996 Olympic Games. I remember how impressive it was that she was only 14 year old at the time. With her adorable looks and fabulous routines, I never would have guessed at the turbulence that occurred out of the public eye, not until I read her memoir called, Off Balance (Touchstone, 2012).
Here is the synopsis of Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu with Paul & Teri Williams from the dust cover:
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.
It is hard to say, I enjoyed the book, given it was about someone's hardships, but I thought it was a well written and very eye opening. You look at Olympic athletes as being on top of the world and sometimes we forget how much of their childhood they have to give up to succeed and we sure don't want to even think about the potential abuse (of any type) they might be going through at the hands of their coaches, trainers and parents, you always hope it is none, but as we can read, in the case of Dominique Moceanu, it was way more than what any little girl should ever have to, regardless of cultural belief differences. This memoir was not only eye opening but in a sense it was also inspirational with the strength and growth of the sisters.
Off Balance was an impressive memoir that really makes you think, it was easy to read and very open and genuine.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my sample used in this review, opinions are honest. Review by Michelle.
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