Adult Fiction book review

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

headoverheelsAvery Abrams, once the most promising gymnast on her way to making the Olympic team, has just left LA and moved back to her hometown in Massachusetts. Avery’s Olympic hopes were crushed seven years ago when a disaster of a performance ruined any hopes of fulfilling her dream. To further salt her wounds, her once best friend and teammate, Jasmine, became an Olympic champion and then married their (20 years her senior) revered coach, Dimitri Federov. Dimitri’s verbally abusive and demeaning coaching style still causes Avery to shudder just thinking about the 5 year period she was training under his harshly skeptical eye. Avery feels betrayed by Jasmine, who was also treated very poorly by their coach.

Gymnastics were Avery’s whole life, and she’s struggled for the past 7 years to find something to bring her happiness. She was happy with her boyfriend Tyler, a pro football player, but after 4 years of living in the shadow of his limelight, they broke up. The break up is hard on Avery, but moving out of LA is certainly a step in the right direction to getting over him. On her first of many evenings spent at home with her parents, wishing she had some sort of a social life, Avery receives an unexpected phone call and rather thrilling offer from an old acquaintance and fellow gymnast, Ryan Nicholson. She can hardly believe it’s Ryan! Ryan was the boy that she and Jasmine thought was so cute when they were younger. Now a coach at Avery’s old gym, Summit, Ryan is training an Olympic hopeful, Hallie, but he needs help with her floor routine. Everyone, including Ryan, knows that Avery’s floor routine skills and expertise are hard to beat. Avery takes him up on the offer, and takes an instant liking to Hallie. Avery’s fierce determination to bring Hallie to the Olympics becomes her top priority.

Once “cute” Ryan, is now a heart-stopping handsome man, and Avery is both surprised and overjoyed when a romance sparks up between them. But then a scandal rocks the gymnastics world, forcing both athletes and coaches to evaluate right and wrong in order to choose a path forward, and Avery’s chances of happiness are at stake again.

This book fizzles with romantic tension as it sheds light on the important topics of sexual assault in the age of the “me too” movement, and the pressure of elite athletic performance against the at times harsh and unforgiving backdrop of social media. Avery’s character has been through many trials, both personally and professionally, but she continually pushes forward, showing up strong and dedicated for those she loves. The story is charming, sexy, and unforgettable. I highly recommend this book to fans of romance, romantic comedy, and contemporary fiction.

Thanks to Megan at Atria Books for sending a review copy of this title.

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