Life with Coach Pop

by Henriette Javorek

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The book is available in English

ISBN-13 : 979-8746644343

In 1982, while at an international competition in West Germany, national Olympic weightlifting coach, István Javorek defected, leaving behind his wife and only daughter in a country still under the control of the Ceausescu dictatorship. Separated for over two and a half years, the family was reunited in the United States. Seven months after coming to the US, Henriette Javorek, then 12 years old, wrote a little novella that traced her family’s journey from Transylvania to Texas and depicted with great naiveté and emotion the dramatic events and hardships surrounding this turning point in her life.


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In Life with Coach Pop, Henriette Javorek takes her teenage novella and responds to it as a grown woman. She juxtaposes the vivid impressions of her childhood with her adult views and commentaries about her father’s immigration. Life with Coach Pop is by turns emotional, philosophical, and humorous. It is innocence revisited and history told through personal memories.

“My father defected, and with that, he uprooted our family tree, severing all ties. He took with him only the three seeds of our nuclear family, which he hoped would sprout and flourish. The wind carried us to Texas and then Kansas, where my parents settled down. But I flew on, never sure where the soil would best suit me, or where the rain and sunshine would let me grow. With my own set of seeds in hand, I have replanted in Germany. But I am not a sapling anymore, and I yearn for deep roots that allow me to stand tall. I yearn to reconnect with my ancestors. I yearn to finally feel at home.”

Henriette Javorek