Title: Head Over Heels
Author: Hannah Orenstein
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Edition/Pages: Audiobook, 10 Hours
I received an ARC copy of this from Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Avery was a supposed to be an Olympian. Until a devastating injury at trials shattered her life long dream.
Years later, she has no job, no degrees, no boyfriend, and she’s back living in her childhood room which feels like a shrine to who she used to be. When she gets the opportunity to work as the assistant gymnastics coach at her old gym, she jumps at the opportunity. Now she’s back in the world she thought she lost forever. Working alongside Ryan, sparks fly. But when a scandal rocks through the gymnastics world, Avery, an old friend she thought she lost forever, and the new budding relationship are thrown off course.
(Side note: It was so strange reading this book knowing how 2020 actually went 😅)
➸ POV: 1st Person from Avery’s POV
➸ Avery Abrams: Mid 20s, Injured at Olympic Trials at 19 ending her career, Recently dumped by long time boyfriend, Moving home to Massachusetts, New assistant coach for an Olympic hopeful at the gym she grew up training at, Directionless, Dealing with trauma related to gymnastics
➸ Ryan: Gymnastics coach, 2 time Olympic athlete, Competed with Avery
➸ Content Warnings: Abuse, Eating disorders, Body dysmorphia, Sexual assault, Trauma, Depression
While I quite enjoyed this story, I have some conflicted feelings on how to rate it. What it comes down to is: I think this was poorly marketed/categorized.
This was pitched as a rom-com but in reality this didn’t have much in the way of romance or comedy. It was however a really topical and important contemporary. This touched on so many things – abuse, sexual assault, trauma, depression, and the lasting physical & mental effects of being in such a demanding sport. While I loved the discussions this book had, I was left mildly disappointed since I went into this expecting a romance.
In general, this book was so much heavier than I had anticipated. The story kicks off with a glum opening as Avery moves home after a 4 year relationship fell apart. She is dealing with physical pains left over from her gymnastics career as well has deep mental scars. She deals depressive thoughts, body dysmorphia, and general lack of direction. I connected to her character immediately and truly felt what she was going through.
I loved watching Avery’s character arc as she developed throughout the book. While this book covers a lot of heavy topics, it also beautifully depicted Avery’s (and Jasmine’s) healing. This had amazing friendships, support systems, and mental health messages. In my eyes, this book was more about Avery’s personal journey than anything else. And in that way, this book really excelled.
However, as a romance, this left me wanting. In fact, I think the romantic aspects were the weakest part of this story. Avery was well developed and I felt connected to her throughout the entire story. But in contrast, Ryan felt extremely underdeveloped. In fact I struggled to write his character description because I didn’t feel like I ever really knew him. I was also extremely frustrated by the fact that he didn’t believe Avery when she told him about the abuse she suffered until he saw it first hand.
I loved how this book balanced heavy topics with a feeling of hope. I loved the friendships, the female empowerment, and messages about healthy self care. But sadly this just didn’t work for me as a romance. I thought the relationship/romantic aspects were underdeveloped and lackluster. So while I recommend this story, definitely don’t go into expecting a rom-com.