Every time I sit down to write this review, I come up short on words and I’m not 100% sure why. But I’m going to try and share my thoughts now.
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Head Over Heels follows Avery, the almost Olympic contender. It’s been several years since the accident that cost her her gymnastics career. After a breakup, she heads back to her hometown, where she starts coaching Hallie (an up and coming gymnast) alongside her childhood crush, Ryan.
What I Liked:
I loved Avery’s relationship with Hallie. Avery is able to me the coach and mentor that she never got and I love how their friendship grows throughout the story. Avery really just wants what is best for Hallie and she wants to push her and help her reach her goal of getting to the Olympics
I also liked that it was set in 2020. Books are generally written 1-2 years before they are published, which means Orenstein had NO CLUE what would be happening in 2020 and it was actually fun (and a little weird TBH) to read a book set in 2020 where life was going on like normal.
Avery’s friendship with Jasmine. At first, this is a pain point when they first reconnect, as Jasmine married their old, abusive coach (not a spoiler, it’s in the synopsis!) but I love how they grow together again.
Avery finding her own way again. After her accident, Avery’s life went downhill. She’s slowly been putting it back together, and I love how we get to see so much of that in this book.
What I didn’t like as much:
(SLIGHT SPOILER) – there’s a part in the book when Avery is telling Ryan about the emotional abuse she went through because of her abusive coach, I really really hated that he didn’t believe her all, at least not at first. There’s another scandal (current) that happens in the book about sexual assault and he believes everyone who comes forward right away, but he doesn’t believe the girl he’s supposed to like?? I just didn’t like that part.
Also, I felt like Ryan lacked some depth. I wanted more from him and his relationship with Avery. her friendships/relationships with Jasmine and Hallie had so much more depth to them.
I gave Head Over Heels 3.5/5 stars. I really enjoyed the story, the author did a great job of talking about gymnastics and I really felt like I was in that world. It was an enjoyable and hopeful read, despite some of the heavier topics.
A thought about content/trigger warnings
In the synopsis of the book, we know that this book will deal with some heavy topics, the emotional abuse that Avery experienced from her old coach, plus a scandal that comes out within the book which, if you read other reviews, you know is sexual assault.
Now, some may consider me telling you this info a spoiler, but I don’t feel like it is.
I’d read reviews + the synopsis before picking up Head Over Heels. I knew going into this book that there would be talk about sexual and emotional abuse. And I’m glad I knew beforehand, because these are my two biggest triggers, and if I’d gone into this book blind, it would have sent me into a spiral.
That being said, there were still some moments that did trigger me, but didn’t send me into a spiral, but only because I knew about them beforehand.
After Sarah from @mamasreadingcorner talked about Trigger/content warnings earlier this week on Instagram I wanted to be better about sharing content warnings in my reviews, so I’ll have more of those (usually just a mention, unless I feel like it should be more in-depth). I’ll label all of these in my reviews so you can read them or skip them if you prefer.
I received a copy of Head Over Heels from the publisher via Netgalley and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
About Head Over Heels
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.