Monday, June 22, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Head over Heels, by Hannah Orenstein {ends 6/29}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Gymnastics has changed lightning-fast, even in the decade since I was Hallie’s age. The top athletes in the sport these days aren’t eighty-five-pound waifs like some of the ones I looked up to as a kid -- they have real, solid muscle and power, like Hallie does. She’s smarter than I ever was, and she knows she can’t perform her best if she’s starving. But she faces a new set of pressures I never could have imagined: a more difficult scoring system; watching her competitors’ skills ratchet up every day on Instagram, just like their follower counts do; the disturbing sexual abuse scandal and its coverage on every news channel in America right now.

“I’m just saying, I think she’s going through a tough time right now, and what I loved about the yoga class I went to was the emphasis on self-care,” I say.

I cringe at how hokey that sounds, and I try again.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea for her to have a place to chill and zone out, where she doesn’t have to worry about being the best, or training for some goal,” I explain.

A contemporary fiction and romance book can be an escape and a fun read. This book also sounded knowledgeable about the main character’s life as an athlete, and made a good statement on some aspects of gymnastics.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Head over Heels, by Hannah Orenstein {ends 6/29}
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.

While the cover made this book look like more fluff than anything else, it went deeper than expected. Avery remembers her childhood career as an elite gymnast. While it gave her a great sense of determination and strength for both her mind and body, in retrospect she recognizes the abuse and impossible standards imposed by her coach during the last five years of her career.

When Avery becomes a coach for Hallie, a young potential Olympian, she sees some of herself and doesn’t want the girl to feel the insecurities and isolation that plagued Avery’s hyper-focused childhood in the sport. In the middle of that, a sexual abuse scandal about a doctor who treats many gymnasts also impacts Hallie, who knew the doctor and recognized that something wasn’t right.

A good happily-ever-after is always appreciated, and the ending of Head Over Heels definitely fits the bill. Overall I’d give this book 3.5/5 stars. It would be recommended for any reader who enjoys a good contemporary rom-com, but its subtle message would be especially appreciated by anyone familiar with competitive youth sports.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley loves sleeping in, laughing with her kids, shaking trees and chasing bees on Animal Crossing, and reading. She also blogs (mostly about books) at


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Head Over Heels!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, June 29th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Head Over Heels, by Hannah Orenstein


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