Bonnie (A Backwards Story)'s Reviews > Off Balance: A Memoir

Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu
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Jun 16, 2012

bookshelves: 2012, memoir
Read from June 16 to 21, 2012

Last night, the US Women's Gymnastic's Team won gold for the first time since 1996, when the Olympics were hosted in Atlanta, Georgia. This is one of the first Olympic games I remember actively watching. I was particularly enamored with gymnastics (though never allowed to take lessons myself because they were too expensive), and in particular, Dominique Moceanu. Moceanu was a major media darling during the 1996 games, perhaps in part because her floor routine "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" captured the home crowd's hearts.

When I saw an interview with Moceanu online about her brand-new memoir and heard her talking about a secret sister who had been born without legs, I knew I wanted to read this. The book is a mixture of heartache, triumph, inspiration, and more. There are so many topics covered, all of which retained my interest. The writing never felt dry or forced, as I often find with non-fiction works.

Through Moceanu's journey, we get to experience the Olympic games from her eyes as she relives the moment, we see all that her family sacrificed to get her to the Olympics, as well as all that she lost in order to get so far. We also get an inside look at the dirty world of Olympic gymnastics, in particular, Béla and Márta Károlyi. Béla famously told Kerri Strug, "You can do it!" back in 1996 after she injured herself vaulting, creating one of the most memorable and often-replayed moments of those games. Moceanu talks about how must of what we know about the Károlyis has been for the camera, and exposes the dirty secrets of the Olympics world. When I saw Márta Károlyi all over the Olympics with the new gold-medal-winning team last night, I felt sick. I hope more people realize how controlling the Károlyis have become in this sport in the USA and make changes so that future generations of athletes won't have to suffer the way those currently in the sport do.

To me, the most intriguing part of OFF BALANCE was the story of Dominique Moceanu's "secret" sister, Jennifer Bricker, who was born without legs and given up for adoption, but is now reunited with her birth sisters. Bricker has made something of herself, too. Despite being born without legs, she's never let that stop her. Her story is incredibly inspirational. She's managed all kinds of athletic feats, and has become a gymnast herself. She's even been on tour performing with Britney Spears. In many ways, being adopted actually gave Bricker opportunities her sisters never had, as well as gave her opportunities she may have never otherwise had herself.

OFF BALANCE is full of so many different layers, all of which line up to create a multi-faceted story of one of the most memorable Olympic gold medalists in gymnastics. Moceanu's story makes you care about her plight, her triumphs, her heartbreaks, the people around her, and the sport itself. If you're a fan of gymnastics, stories of personal triumph over adversity, or the title gymnast herself, this is one memoir you'll want to pick up and read.
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Reading Progress

06/16/2012 page 24
9.0% "Dominique's family story is so intriguing!"
04/25/2016 marked as: read
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