Shop Auto Winter Products Salon Beauty Magazine Deals Black Friday Deals Week nav_sap_hiltonhonors_launch Listen for a chance to win PCB for Musical Instruments $24.99 for a limited time only Try it first with samples Handmade Gift Shop STEM Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon Early Black Friday deals: save 40% or more on Amazon Video Early Black Friday deals: save 40% or more on Amazon Video Early Black Friday deals: save 40% or more on Amazon Video  Echo Dot Black Friday Deals Week: Fire tablets starting at $29.99. Limited-time offer. $30 off Kindle Paperwhite GNO Shop Now HTL17_gno

Customer Review

TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 13, 2012
As I write this, the summer Olympics are just around the corner. So it is an ideal time for this memoir to appear. Dominque Moceanu remains the youngest American gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal. Of Romanian heritage, she was raised in what she describes as a harsh environment with cultural traditions that set her apart. She also had a very strict father prone to rages, a domineering coach, and a strange childhood.

I'm not sure why Moceanu decided to open her book with a chapter titled, "Sisters", a section focusing on the discovery of a sister she'd never known before and one who was given up for adoption by Moceanu's parents. She does introduce the chapter by listing the highlights of her life - winning an Olympic gold medal, a court battle against her parents, etc. Still, the discovery of her sister is an intriguing and somewhat baffling choice for the start of the book. Instead, the saga of meeting her sister - and their continued connection- could well have made a fascinating book by itself.

It isn't until the second chapter that Moceanu describes her background and roots - her parent's courtship and marriage and Moceanu's birth (which is only noted at the end of the chapter).

And then...finally...the book focuses on Moceanu. Quite logically, she begins with her childhood. She felt very different, an outsider. Because of her parent's traditions, the food, clothing, and customs at home were unlike her peers. She took solace in gymnastics and was fortunate enough to excel at the sport.

When she was accepted by the Karolyis, she found Bela Karolyi to be a tyrant who was all too eager to tell Moceanu's father about any mistakes, however small, in the gym. Memories of a turbulent life are mixed in with chapters focusing on Dominique's sister. I found this to be somewhat confusing and out of sequence..

But Off Balance still held my attention. Although gymnastic routines may be beautiful, the brutal world in the gym, the long hours, and working through extreme pain add perspective to life behind the beauty. Most of Off Balance is grim but at moments there are flashes of joy. This is Moceanu's truth and while readers may hope for a different view the life described seems honest and real.

I have no idea if the facts are accurate when it comes to gymnastic training. But her resilience and courage, hard won, is inspiring. I've left out many details because I don't want to spoil some surprises, especially one about Moceanu's sister. There is also a deeper look at Moceanu's home life, her experience with Karolyi, and participation in the Olympics. I'm deducting one star because of the uneven pace and chronology.
22 comments| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse| Permalink
What's this?

What are product links?

In the text of your review, you can link directly to any product offered on To insert a product link, follow these steps:
1. Find the product you want to reference on
2. Copy the web address of the product
3. Click Insert product link
4. Paste the web address in the box
5. Click Select
6. Selecting the item displayed will insert text that looks like this: [[ASIN:014312854XHamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)]]
7. When your review is displayed on, this text will be transformed into a hyperlink, like so:Hamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)

You are limited to 10 product links in your review, and your link text may not be longer than 256 characters.