I’m playing catch-up a bit on books that I read while I was on maternity leave in 2020 that I wrote a quick review for in Goodreads but didn’t have a chance to put on the blog. First up is Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein and though I don’t remember every detail at this point, I do remember enjoying it and appreciating that it touched on what happening in the gymnastics world at the time. It touched on some heavy topics, but there was still a breezy love story at the heart of it.
The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.
Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.
I really enjoyed this book! At the beginning, I wasn’t sure whether there was going to be too much gymnastics “inside baseball,” and don’t get me wrong, there was a lot, but it didn’t take me out of the story as much as I thought it would. The characters were likeable and the thing that breaks the couple up in the middle (spoiler? I mean, it happens in all of these kinds of books) is more than just a miscommunication that could be explained if they just spoke to each other. The pacing of the story was perfect. It is really relevant in the age of #metoo without having the entire story revolve around it. I’ve never read anything else by Hannah Orenstein, but I will definitely take a look at her back catalogue now.
“The funny thing about your dream coming true is that it never quite happens the way you think it will. There’s always a twist.” —Hannah Orenstein, Head Over Heels
Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the advanced copy, and to Cdoncel on Unsplash for the featured photo.