The Book Worm: Review: Off Balance

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: Off Balance

off balance, dominique moceanu, book review

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, 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.
Genre: non-fiction

Publishing date: June 2012 (for the Kindle edition)

Mature content: no

Review: The world of gymnastics has always fascinated me. I was barely a year old when Nadia Comaneci score the first perfect 10 ever and as I got older I never missed a competition on TV. So I was naturally drawn to this book by the subject alone. I wished I could say that I loved it, but I didn't. 

Realistically speaking, I know that the world of gymnastics is not as pretty as we, spectators, are made to believe. Those young boys and girls miss an important part of childhood, training and practicing their routines for hours on end. So when I downloaded Off Balance I was not expecting a pretty book. I knew there would be pain, there would be dark days, setbacks and tears. But still, I was surprised by all the whining. 

Dominique clearly did not have a happy childhood, and the support of her family was misdirected. Her parents loved her in a sort of twisted way that supported her career but never really made her feel wanted or cherished as a person. And some of her coaches sound really twisted too. But still, she was strong enough, even at a very young age, to come on top, be the best of the best, and make a wonderful life for herself. This inspiring message is practically lost in the middle of all the complaints. Also, the references to the sister that was given up for adoption pop in and out of the story out of chronological order and just messed with the rest of the "plot".

For the message that is actually passed through, I think the book is overly long. Frankly, I was bored half way through and only mild curiosity about her sister and my love for gymnastics made me stick with it until the end. It's not a book I plan to re-read anytime soon. So, I recommend that you read it only if you have time and are really interested in gymnastics.

Happy Thursday, 

the book worm, book reviews


  1. I think this sounds like an interesting book. Mary Lou Retton was a favorite of mine when I was growing up, and I have always liked watching gymnastics ever since!

    1. Thank you Jennifer. I hope you enjoy it if your read it!

  2. I loved this book! I followed Dominique and cheered her on when she was on TV. She was very talented.

    1. I'm glad you loved it! Thank you for stopping by!


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