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Off Balance

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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  3,243 ratings  ·  434 reviews
In this searing and riveting New York Times bestseller, Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu reveals the dark underbelly of Olympic gymnastics, the true price of success...and the shocking secret about her past and her family that she only learned years later.

At fourteen years old, Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the 1996 US Women's Olympic Gymnastics team,
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Touchstone (first published June 5th 2012)
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3.77  · 
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 ·  3,243 ratings  ·  434 reviews


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La Petite Américaine
I first encountered Dominique Moceanu the same way everyone else did: on TV when she was a bright-eyed 14 year-old at the 1996 Atlanta Games. I still remember the little tumbler with an eerie resemblance to Nadia, talking all about how in this moment her life was "absolutely perfect." That struck me so much that now, 16 years later, I still remember my first thoughts at hearing those words. I thought, "Well, that kid's either naive or lying." After reading this memoir, I suspect it was -- and st ...more
ShareStories
Off Balance, by Dominique Moceanu, seemed a bit...off balance. It goes back and forth between the story of Moceanu discovering the existence of, and later, meeting, the sister her parents gave up for adoption because she was born without legs, and the "inside" story of Dominique's gymnastic career. That structure left me feeling off balance. I found myself wishing for more detail and resolution of the many threads that wove through these stories.

I initially read the book more for the story of t
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Bella Claybourne
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book has gotten some negative press recently due to the fact that Ms. Moceanu “bad mouthed” her former coaches. This is not what the book is primarily about. It is her memoir. It shows you a window into her life through her eyes. She discovered a sister she never had, and while this seems to be the primary focus she does give you a glimpse into her world. Her trials and tribulations and she appears to be very honest, although she really only touches on it briefly about how illy she might ha ...more
Pam
Aug 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Yes, truth is often much stranger than fiction. Dominique Moceanu wins gold at the 1996 Olympics after years of intense training at the hands of the same pair who coached Nadia Comaneci to her perfect scores. Most of the book describes the mind games that go on as the coaches force Dominique to push herself beyond the point of pain.
Every few chapters, the more interesting story (for me) is told about how Dominique discovers as an adult, about to give birth to her own daughter, that she has a you
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Katie
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Over the summer, my best friend's boyfriend called me and said, "Katie...do you know who Dominique Moceanu is???" Being an avid Olympics fan, I of course knew of her as the little brunette gymnast that was one fraction of the Magnificent Seven from the '96 Atlanta games that brought home all-around women's gold for the first time to America. What I didn't know was how insane the rest of her life was. As soon as finding out about the extreme situations in her life, I got on the waiting list for h ...more
Emily Ryan
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gymnastics fans
Ultimately it was my happy memories of Atlanta's Magnificent Seven from 1996 that led me to this book, and while the truths I read flipped some of those memories upside down I was still captivated by the book. Though her style was a little bit disjointed, the storytelling overall was well done. She paints a very rough picture of the Karolyis, who coach their American gymnast as though they were career athletes of communist Russia. These tellings make me want to rewatch the 1996 Olympics and see ...more
Colby
Jun 24, 2012 added it
Dominique Moceanu has been an idol of mine when I first saw her beat another idol, Shannon Miller, in 1995 at the age of 13. I was 8. Being a fellow gymnast, though I was never an Elite, I can relate to a lot of her struggles in our sport, one that is, at times, physically, mentally, and emotionally grueling. I always looked up to Dominique and envied (what seemed like) her perfect relationship with her coaches, Bela and Marta. When I first started out & she was rising to fame, I couldn't st ...more
Elizabeth
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
I saw Dominique Moceanu interviewed on "The Road to London" on Universal Sports. They mentioned her book, "Off Balance." This is my favorite thing about my kindle, no hour long trips to the book store (one way,) I immediately purchased it and devoured it.

Gymnastics is my favorite summer Olympic sport. And I have to admit, I wanted the dirt on Bela and Marta Korolyi. And I got it!

Moceanu certainly had difficulty in her life. And she lays it out without whining or justifications or sympathy seeki
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Kelly
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
This was one of the better "celebrity" memoirs I've read (though I'd argue Moceanu's less a celebrity and just a well-known athlete, at least among people in my generation). Aside from dishing out a lot of personal stuff, Moceanu gives an inside look at the politics of USA Gymnastics. I'd had an idea about some of them, but she goes at it full force in the last couple of chapters, discussing how it's terrible that the entire sport rests upon the decisions of the Karolyis. Gymnastics is the only ...more
Cari
Sep 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Dominique Moceanu is like the Real Housewives of the gymnastics world. There's always been some drama around her and I'm never sure if she deserves half the negative publicity that comes with it.

That said, I was curious and found it interesting.

PROS:
My experience in the sport and attenuated connections with the elite athletes gives me an only-slightly-filtered idea of what really goes on. I would say her book is pretty accurate about coaches (certainly in her praise of Alexander Alexandrov) and
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Nicole Zupich
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
What an amazing eye-opener. I've been a fan of the Magnificent Seven since the beginning. Once Dominique's family issues hit the press well after the Atlanta Olympics, I found myself incredibly curious about her life and experiences.

This book served not only as an eye-opener to her rough family life growing up, but also to the insanity of the Karolyis as well as the politics surrounding Olympic gymnast selection and the organization of USA Gymnastics as a whole.

The horrible treatment she receiv
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Samita
Sep 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports, non-fiction, 2012
I realize this is Domi's part of the story but boy do the Karolys sound like asshats
Brittany
Jun 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gymnastics fans.
How I Came To Read This Book: I decided to write a blog post on Olympics-themed books after reading Jennifer Sey's gymnastics book Chalked Up, and was excited to discover both Dominique Moceanu and Shawn Johnson were releasing memoirs in the same year. I requested it from the library and voila.

The Plot: The book definitely veers more toward the memoir side of things than biographical. Although there is some chronology, it's between two alternating timelines - Dominique's childhood, gymnastics c
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Nan
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting to read this before the Shannon Miller book. A different look at the Romanian coaches hold on the USA gymnastics team and the rulemaking. Shannon had far more loving coaches and parents who stepped in when require, plus they showed their love and pride clearly to their daughter at each success. Also, a different look at the 1996 success of the USA Gold team! A more real raw look. Both worth reading! Now I want to read some other Bios about the other women the team. I watched it "live ...more
CaliNativeBalboa
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I chose this memoir in the wake of the Larry Nasser scandal, which was an eye opener into the world of elite gymnastics. As an avid fan of women's gymnastics, I admired the Karolyis for their development of Nadia Comeneci and other champion gymnasts. Through the years, I watched promising young US stars fail at critical moments and bought into the Karolyi's assessment that they were "soft, spoiled, slackers". In light of the Nasser revelations as well as the increased scrutiny into the gymnastic ...more
T
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
So interesting to hear things from her perspective. Timely, too, considering all the scrutiny USAG is getting with the sex abuse done by one of their doctors. This book gives an insight into the world of elite gymnastics and all the politics and frustrates me with how young, impressionable girls are treated. I hope her words and many others from this sport feel like they have a voice in getting USAG to reshape their system.
Orsolya
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hollywood, library
When I was a little girl, my poverty-stricken mother (my father passed away when I was 4 years old); could barely afford food in our mouths nonetheless any extracurricular activities. I had a love for gymnastics and desperately wanted to take lessons. To satisfy this craving, I would put on my bathing suit (a “leotard”), flour my hands (“chalk”), and put on gymnastic shows in my living room. It was only natural that in 1996, the pint-sized Dominique Moceanu (who was similar in age and ethnicity) ...more
Charlene
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
My very first research project in elementary school was on the wonder, grace, and power of Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci's gymnastics. After that I was hooked. I can imagine enjoying almost any biography from any gymnast, but this one was particularly satisfying because Moceanu took on the Karolyis. I realize many people think she was being dramatic, but I don't. Both Keri Strug and Nadia Comaneci have spoken about the harsh treatment they suffered at the hands of the Karolyis. Do they now say ...more
Cheryl
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
With the Summer Olympics 2012 fast approaching, this is the perfect time to get to really know a past olympic superstar, Dominique Moceanu in Off Balance. Readers will remember Dominique as she was a member of the 1996 Women's Olympic Gymnastics team known as the "Magnificent Seven". People know Dominique as one of the greatest gymnastics but what people probably don't know about Dominique is the person, mom, wife, sister, and daughter. In Off Balance Dominique shares a personal look at her life ...more
Nikki Boisture
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
I remember so clearly hearing a story about Dominique Moceanu at the 96 Olympics that her parents had her hang from a clothesline when she was a baby, and when she didn't let go, they decided that she'd be a world-class gymnast. The announcers told this story with great enthusiasm and clearly thought it was wonderful. It immediately seemed creepy to me though, so two years later when Moceanu publicly got herself emancipated, I wasn't surprised. Even though I'm only five years older than her, I f ...more
Becky
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
First sentence: When you have traveled the world, won Olympic gold, and gone through a very public court battle against your parents all by the age of seventeen, surprises don't come easy.

Premise/plot: Off Balance is the autobiography of gymnast Dominique Moceanu. The focus is not just on gymnastics. It is on her many aspects of her life, then and now. For example, here are a few things this one is about: forging a relationship with a sister she was clueless existed, her extremely tense relation
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Lindsey
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Dominique was my favorite gymnast in the '96 Olympics; I remembered her immediately when I heard about this book and I couldn't wait to read it. After getting to "know" her better, she's everything I thought she would be: intelligent, articulate, and inspiring. (As an aside, I feel like she and I could be good friends if we knew each other.)

I found Domi's Romanian upbringing fascinating, and I loved getting a look into the other aspects of her life (although the gymnastics bits were obviously th
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Terra
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
If I could give the book a 2.75 I would. I liked the book, to an extent. To me the writing was jumpy and somewhat hard to follow. I wish she would have told the part about her sister in a few chapters together instead of back and forth because it came across as confusing more than interesting.

I believe her views were slightly slanted. Dominique was a very, very young gymnast with an abusive father, I could see her feeling crushed by a coach who was very similar to her father.

One thing that kin
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Rachel
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Moceanu's telling of the dark side of U.S. women's gymnastics feels genuine and heartbreaking at the same time. It's almost surprising that she didn't have a rougher "dark time" than the one she described considering the physical and mental abuse she suffered at the hands of both her coaches and her own father.

Certainly there are two sides to every story, but her depiction of the Karolyis doesn't seem too far fetched. Her experience with them is actually quite a contrast to Nadia Comaneci's des
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Bettielee
Oct 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This was a very short memoir and managed to make me very mad. It's sad how horribly she was abused, firstly by her own father, and an abusive parent usually has no problem with someone else abusing their child. It's just terribly sad what she went through. The story of her secret sister, who seems like a real firecracker, makes me wish I was reading Jennifer's book, to be honest. It's almost as sad that the girl who was given up for adoption had a happier childhood than the children who stayed w ...more
Mary
Sep 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Truth really is stranger than fiction. This is "behind the scenes" tale of gold medalist Dominique Moceanu up to and beyond her training for the 1996 Olympics, which includes life with an abusive father (who squanders most of $1 million dollars that she made on post-Olympic endorsements and exhibitions), abusive coaches (the Karolyis), rigorous training with severe food restriction (she grew almost 8 inches after she stopped training for the Olympics, I can't help but think it was mainly due to ...more
Emily
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, gymnastics
Very honest, interesting account of Dominique's competitive career. I follow gymnastics closely - even traveling cross-country for meets on a regular basis - so I knew of most of the harrowing details of elite gymnastics and even some of the specific training stories she mentions here before picking up the book. Dominique does a great job of presenting her story without asking for sympathy or pity. She lays it all out there, argues for improvements in the selection and camp procedures with USA G ...more
Renee
Overall a good read. Kind of a strange mix of topics. On one hand you get sucked in by the crazy idea that she has a secret sister with no legs who was also a gymnast. But this is kind of sprinkled through the book. The majority of the book is about her life growing up as a gymnast, and the majority of that seems to be using a book to publicly shame all the people who wronged her. I'm not saying it wasn't unfair or wrong, but it does become a little overly clear that her purpose is to make it ob ...more
Andrea
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this in less than a week, when I had other things I should be doing. :) So that says a lot. I found her story fascinating. I can't say that I'm surprised to hear her version of the truth behind the Karolyi's, but that doesn't make it less shocking. I would love to hear from some of the current US gymnasts on the subject. I wonder if the abusive situation has gotten better, or if Dominique was an exception because of the role her Romanian parents played in allowing the abuse, or if there w ...more
Shanna
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Dominique's behind the scenes look into the world of gymnastics provided an interesting and sobering read. She approaches the subject with a refreshing frankness that is needed to shed light on the fact that U.S. Gymnastics is a dictatorship ruled by people who have no business training children. Although Dominique's account is only one side of the story, I believe her, and I hope she continues to pursue changes in gymnastics.
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Dominique Helena Moceanu is an American author and retired American gymnast. She was a member of the gold-medal-winning United States women's gymnastics team (the "Magnificent Seven") at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

“I hope that by sharing my story, I inspire others to stand for what they believe in and know that their voice matters, even if change doesn't occur overnight.” 6 likes
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