Friday, October 21, 2016

Off Balance

     You may remember Dominique Moceanu as the youngest gymnast on the 1996 USA team when they won gold.  This book is about her life as a gymnast, but also about the sister she never knew she had.  When she was nine months pregnant and finishing college, her sister contacted her, knocking Dominique's world "off balance."
      When Dominique was six, her mother had a baby who was born without any legs.  When her father heard about the cost of the medical care that would be required, he knew that he would not be able to afford to take care of her.  He decided to give her up for adoption.  When Dominique's mom woke up from the anesthesia, the baby was gone.  She never got to hold her or see her.  They never spoke of the baby again until Dominique asked about her sister years later.
     The baby, Jennifer, was adopted by a wonderful family who gave her the perfect childhood.  Although she didn't have legs, she was told she could do anything.  She competed in volleyball, gymnastics, and several other sports.  She never saw herself as disabled or handicapped.
     Although it was a closed adoption, a clerical error allowed Jennifer's parents to see the names on the birth certificate and see the pictures of her birth parents.  Since Jennifer loved gymnastics, the family watched the Olympic gymnasts and saw Dominique's last name.  They thought that was a strange coincidence, but when the cameras focused on Dominique's parents in the audience, they knew this was Jennifer's family.  They waited until Jennifer was older to tell her about her sister.
    In contrast to Jennifer's perfect childhood and family, Dominique shares the difficult life she led with her domineering father and controlling coaches.  They controlled what she ate, physically abused her, and only treated her well when the tv cameras were rolling.
     This is an interesting book, especially if you like gymnastics.  I am looking forward to reading Jennifer's upcoming book "Everything is Possible."

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