From the publisher:
Named a best beach/summer read by O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Parade, PopSugar, Marie Claire, Bustle, and more!
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).
I read Orenstein’s Love at First Like last year, and I wasn’t a fan, mostly because I didn’t like her main character. But I received this new one, it looked interesting, her publicist raved, so I gave it a try. I am happy to report I liked this book a lot.
It might have something to do with the Olympics being postponed; I feel like that gave me even more empathy for these characters, even though they are living in a parallel universe. In their world, there is no Covid-19, the Olympics are in Tokyo this summer, and all the events leading up to it are right on schedule. That may have been the thing I liked most about it – seeing characters living a normal life!
I really liked Avery; she has had a hard life, even though it was from her own choosing. I really enjoyed learning about how an Olympic athlete trains, the way they live, and the work they put into it. I loved how this summed it up: “That’s the gold standard in gymnastics: making the impossible look not just possible, but easy.”
Avery and her best friend Jasmine trained under the abusive, old school, trainer, Dimitri. But Avery had a career-ending injury during Olympic trials, and found herself depressed and at a loss as to how to live her life. Meanwhile, Jasmine ended up with gold medals, the television career, and married to Dimitri. All of that caused a bit of a rift in the friendship, and they haven’t spoken in years.
The Olympic gymnast that both girls had a crush on, Ryan, is training an Olympic hopeful, Hallie, in Avery’s home town. When the professional football star she is living with dumps her, she goes home to her parents and the shrine they have built to Avery’s past glory. That doesn’t help with her depression. So when Ryan calls and offers her a job coaching his prodigy on the floor exercise, where Avery excelled, she is unsure but gives it a try. That first day she realizes this is what she wants to do.
This book addresses some important problems; there is a scandal involving the top doctor in gymnastics when several girls come forward, stating he sexually abused them. The emotional abuse that some trainers heap upon their gymnasts is also addressed. The tension and pressure that an Olympic-level gymnast is under is excruciatingly portrayed, adding yet another layer to this story.
To be honest, the romance between Ryan and Avery feels like more of a subplot, but that works here. This was a really interesting story, especially now that there are no Olympics to look forward to this summer. I read this in one night, and it was a really good read. I highly recommend it.
6/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
HEAD OVER HEELS by Hannah Orenstein. Atria Books (June 23, 2020). ISBN 978-1982121471. 336 pages.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2020 at 8:00 AM and is filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Romance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.