Author: Hannah Orenstein
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Book Description: From the author of the Love at First Like and Playing with Matches, an electrifying rom-com set in the high stakes world of competitive gymnastics, full of Hannah Orenstein’s signature “charm, whimsy, and giddy romantic tension” (BuzzFeed).
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.
Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jasmine Guillory, Head Over Heels proves that no one “writes about modern relationships with more humor or insight than Hannah Orenstein” (Dana Schwartz, author of Choose Your Own Disaster).
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars
Review: This book by all accounts appears to be a romance, from the title, to the cover and even the description. However, while the element of romance is very much there, you get a very thoughtful novel that takes on the reality of what women’s gymnastics really looks like.
We meet Avery on her way home, after being dumped by her boyfriend. She has gone through a tough stretch after injuring herself at the Olympic trials years ago. When she gets home, she is offered a job to help coach an Olympic hopeful. After consideration she decided to take this position.
Cue Ryan, the coach. Ryan and Avery met years ago when they were both training for the Olympics. He has had a successful career as a gymnast and is progressively moving into the next role into his life.
We quickly learn Ryan has had a long term crush on Avery and they start a relationship in secret so they do not hurt Hallie’s chance of making the Olympic team. Hallie is the 16 year old phenom and has the discipline to go all the way.
Where the novel goes into a deeper story, is when we find Hallie has been going to a doctor that has now been accused of sexually abusing his patients. Avery feels a bond to Hallie, because she did not have a smooth training experience when she was an Olympic hopeful. Avery supports Hallie in a way that no one seems to be able to.
Avery has been reeling for years of what happened to her, and she will do anything to make sure Hallie stays safe and healthy. During this time, Avery grows significantly as a person. You come to find out that maybe her break-up was the best thing for her.
This book has some more heft than your typical romance. You will find yourself rooting for all three protagonists and even some supporting characters. This book feels extremely relevant and gives an extremely positive spin that if you have the right support system, you can persevere.
Thank you NetGalley and Atria for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.