By Nadia Comaneci
Basic Books, $14.99, 180 pages

There have been few gymnasts as exhilarating as Nadia Comaneci to watch. Letters to a Young Gymnast tells her story in her own words, from her earliest memories to what she is doing now. It not only includes what she did, but what actually happened; one poignant moment is how people expected her to be living high on the hog after her gymnastics career even though she was just another factory worker. Throughout she gives tips and advice to young gymnasts on how to be better and how to succeed not just at gymnastics but in life in general. It is told in her own voice as a series of responses to letters she has received. Although the original letters are not reprinted, they are not needed; they would have wasted space. Nonetheless, as her original voice is kept, you can also hear the Romanian accent, and the book has a beautiful presence that carries through, making it sound as if she is talking to reader in her living room. It is a simple tale, but one that needs to be heard, especially for those even thinking of competing in the hard world of gymnastics.

Reviewed by Jamais Jochim