I have loved the sport of gymnastics since I was a kid. I remember watching Nadia Comaneci in the 1980 Olympics and being fascinated. I took gymnastics classes but quickly found out that I had zero talent and too much fear to pull it off. With the Summer Olympics in London fast approaching I was very excited to get my hands on a book by another Olympic gymnast that I admire.
Dominique Moceanu, at the age of 14 years old, was a member of the 1996 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team. “The Magnificent Seven” as she and her teammates were nicknamed were the first and only American women’s team to win the Olympic gold medal. Her new memoir, Off Balance, describes her lifetime of training to compete in the sport she loves. In the beginning, she worked with a coach that was loving and supportive. The gym was her home away from home. It was obvious to everyone that Dominique was a major talent, so her father wanted her to train with the legendary Bela and Marta Karolyi. She was yanked out of her comfort zone at the age of 10 and moved to Texas to begin with her new coaches. The Karolyi’s were a shock to her system. Her tales of food deprivation and psychological and verbal abuse are harrowing.
While I did find all of her memories about this period in her life enthralling, the family secret that she discovers makes Dominique’s story even more amazing.
We have a display of books about the Olympics upstairs right now. The Opening Ceremonies are July 27th, so come in and brush up on your Olympic history!
Reviewed by Laura Beth Walker