Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
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.
June 23rd, 2020
Contemporary Fiction/Romance/Female Friendship
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Until recently, I would not have ever classified myself as someone who enjoys the “romance genre”. Maybe I am jaded, but I struggle to relate to fluffy and far fetched love stories when my feet are firmly planted in the whole married with kid’s stage of life, LOL. While there are many wonderful parts of this phase of life, long term relationships require daily work and effort from all parties involved.
This past winter something exciting happened to me though. While I try not to overgeneralize with books, I realized I was doing just that with “romance novels”. I was introduced to Abby Jimenez and flew through her contemporary romance books The Friend Zone and The Happy Ever After Playlist and realized there was a whole part of this genre I was missing!
I realized there are books that are a mix of being light and heartwarming books while also balancing them out with deeper issues of trauma, loss, and mental health. What I had been missing previously was what I found in this style of writing. Life is messy and imperfect and sometimes really hard, and there ARE authors that incorporate that into lighter and engrossing writing.
Okay, so that tangent can be summarized into saying that I was on a mission to find more books like Jimenez’ style of writing, and when Atria Books invited me to joined their blog tour for Head Over Heels, I decided I should definitely go for it. I had never read a book by Hannah Orenstein but I had seen great things on #bookstagram.
The Gymnastics World…
While I don’t know a lot about the gymnastics world, I loved the play on words with the book title which is just so cute and clever. But even better, I found Orenstein’s writing totally engrossing from the very beginning and this contemporary fiction novel ended up being way more than just a “romance’.
I love books that incorporate working through hard stuff, because who can’t relate to that? Head Over Heels delves into the #metoo movement, female friendships, self-destruction, and second chances. Orenstein pulls from what is happening in the real-life gymnastics world and there are discussions of sexual assault, emotional abuse which she doesn’t sugar coat.
While there are many hard issues incorporated into the writing, there is a slow burn romance aspect and just as much focus on the power of female and mentor relationships. I loved this balance and Head Over Heels was just such a satisfying read. I look forward to whatever Hannah Orenstein writes next!
Thank you to Atria Books for inviting me to be a part of their blog tour and for providing an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. As always, all thoughts are my own.
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