Publication Date: June 22, 2020
Publisher: Atria Books
Dates Read: June 25 – July 5, 2020
Format: Paperback ARC provided by Publisher
“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.”
A phenomenal read from Hannah Orenstein!
Head Over Heels is the story of Avery, a former competitive gymnast who was injured during the Olympic trials and not only didn’t get to go to the Olympics, but it also ended her gymnastics career. Avery’s best friend Jasmine goes on to become an Olympic champion and then goes on to marry their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri. Having lost everything, including her best friend, Avery packs up and heads to LA to start over. Seven years later, after a rough breakup with her long-time boyfriend, Avery is headed back to her hometown in Massachusetts to start over yet again.
Once home, Avery gets a phone call from a former US Olympic gymnast from the mens team, (and her former crush) Ryan. He is now a coach at the same gym that Avery once trained in with Jasmine and Dimitri, and he is desperate for Avery’s help with his young Olympic bound gymnast Hallie. Even though Avery worries what memories it may bring up for her being in her old training gym, Avery agrees to help Ryan. Once working together, Avery realizes that her and Ryan have serious chemistry, but navigating that and working together becomes tricky once Jasmine and Dimitri come back into Avery’s life.
I really enjoyed Avery and Ryan’s character building. They truly read like they were real people, and I was completely sucked into their story. I also really enjoyed the side characters of Jasmine and Hallie. Each character had their own interesting story and troubles and it was very refreshing to see real life problems and situations in the story.
I absolutely love Gymnastics (though I myself am not a gymnast–I only did gymnastics as a girl for about 4-ish years) and watching the gymnastics in the Olympics is one of my favorite things. So this book sucked me in from the very beginning. I think that if you aren’t familiar with gymnastics, it may be slightly harder to understand certain things happening in the story, but overall would still be a fantastic read. The emotional/sexual abusive storyline of this book was really interesting to read about, and I definitely felt that I learned a lot from it. That being said, I do put this in here as a TW for those that can’t do these types of storylines, though there was not much detail in the sexual abuse side of things.
Content/triggers to note: Emotional/Verbal abuse, Sexual abuse (spoken of, but not detailed), One semi-detailed sex scene, and divorce.
Overall, I highly enjoyed this one. I felt that the one sex scene took me slightly out of the book, which is why I knocked off one star. I think that the detail didn’t suit the story very well, and it came off a bit clunky. Other than that, I really loved it, and highly recommend to all contemporary romance fans. I also think that gymnast fans, even if romance isn’t their genre, will really enjoy this as well. Orenstein gets a gold medal from me for this one. Much better than her last book “Love at First Like”.
**Many thanks to NetGalley, Atria Books, and Hannah Orenstein for the advanced eARC and paperback ARC in exchange only for my honest thoughts and review.**