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September 16, 2020

Book Review Wednesday: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

It's a wild ride to follow an author as they finish writing and publishing their book. You feel like you're part of the process and feel strangely proud when the book is finally available for sale. Of course, this is a new type of feeling thanks to social media but when you follow Hannah Orenstein on Instagram, it's very common. 

Head Over Heels is Hannah Orenstein's third book and she documented the entire writing & publishing process on her Instagram page. It's pretty inspiring and cool to watch her start something and then have it come to life, and be able to read the words she wrote.

I've reviewed Hannah's other two books, Love At First Like and Playing With Matches on the blog, and loved them to pieces. Head Over Heels was really no different. 



Publisher's Summary

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.

My Thoughts

It took me a little while to actually READ Head Over Heels, I think because I wanted to make it last longer, before even cracking it open. Does that make sense?  However, when I started reading it, I devoured it within a few days. I think in total, I read it in three sittings and it went by so fast! That's how great the story was.

Gymnastics has always interested me and the culture of the sport has obviously been a topic of conversation in recent years. That combined with Orenstein's writing was enough for me to want to read every word.

Avery was a very likable character and you become invested in her journey very quickly. She was relatable; a heartbroken lost and confused woman who goes back home to try to put her life together. Her passion was her career and somehow along the way, that all vanished. You watch her find her way again and I loved that so much. It was inspiring and felt almost like a personal message to me. It was also very entertaining which of course, is the point. 

In the romance department, you are rooting for Avery and Ryan throughout the entire thing. I loved the way Orenstein slowly built up their love story. It wasn't a rush, it wasn't out of nowhere, it was perfect. 

While there is a love story weaved throughout the novel but that isn't what the story is about, at least in my opinion. At its core, "Head Over Heels" is about passion, drive, and motivation. It's about gymnastics and the abuse that those girls experienced, and it's about how when you stick together you can come out on top. 

I mention the abuse in the industry because that topic is touched upon in the book and sort of becomes a central plot point but the way Orenstein handles it is very gentle. She doesn't come out and say what it is but it is understood. It doesn't take over the story but it is inherently part of the book. 

Hannah's knowledge of gymnastics took this book to the next level. It made the entire plot feel more natural and you could tell that the author was a gymnast herself. Of course, if you don't understand gymnastics you will still be able to follow and enjoy the story, it just enriched the story.

I loved this book from start to finish and really loved all the characters, with the expectation of Jasmine because even though she becomes a 'good' character, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

The end of the novel was my favorite because everything was wrapped up in a bow, without giving you too much closure. It was satisfying just enough.

If you didn't get the picture, I highly recommend this book. It's a romantic comedy with a level of drama that is just bearable. 

xoxo

B