Wednesday, July 25, 2012

review: off balance by dominique moceanu

As so many others were during the summer of 1996, I was enthralled by the US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team.  The youngest of the Magnificent Seven, Dominique Moceanu, was the one who really caught my attention.  Her floor routine set to The Devil Went Down to Georgia was absolutely electrifying.  But as the summer faded into fall, I returned to school and heard little about the first group to take home the gold.  Now Dominique Moceanu, along with Paul and Teri Williams, has written a memoir about how she came to be on the team at just 13 and what followed.

Before the release of Off Balance, Moceanu caught my attention again in a 20/20 segment about discovering she had a younger sister.  Jennifer was born without legs and given up for adoption when Moceanu was six.  It’s a subject she addresses in detail in the book, though even she cannot explain how she didn’t remember her mother being pregnant.  Moceanu also discusses the strict training and harsh conditions at Bela and Marta Karolyi’s gym as well as how she believes they blackballed her in USA Gymnastics.  Although not going in-depth into some of the more salacious details surrounding a few documented struggles like her emancipation, Moceanu does not shy away from her teenage rebellion and strained family relations.  Off Balance provides plenty of information for those curious about the teen they watched so beautifully compete.

After reading Off Balance, it will difficult to watch the 2012 team that the Karolyis are still very much a part of.  Moceanu’s claims about them are disturbing indeed.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Touchstone.

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