Quick review for a fun book with a good backbone. This was a Book of the Month selection a couple months back, and I’m glad because I don’t think I would have ever gotten around to it otherwise. Head Over Heels is a romance, but that’s just a portion of it. Most of the book follows heroine Avery’s emotional journey back from a crushing injury, one that ruined her career as a professional gymnast right on the eve of her chance to compete at the Olympics (the injury actually happens at her last event in the Olympic trials). She spends the years after that floundering. When a break-up gives her the excuse to shake her life up again, she moves back to her hometown. A chance encounter gets her a job opportunity that reignites her love for gymnastics, and forces her to reckon parts of her past she’s been ignoring. It also allows her to reunite with her childhood crush, a fellow gymnast who did end up making it to the Olympics, and who is now a coach himself.
I was very compelled by Avery’s story. I LOVE reading stories about people who are good at things, and for some reason reading about people playing and working hard at and excelling at sports is one of those things that really works for me. It works very well here. In fact, I wish there had been more technical details included than there actually were, though I’m sure that would have been a tough sell for an editor. The general public isn’t as interested in the nitty gritty details as I am. But there are still some of those to go around!
The book also deals with sexism and abuse in the sport of gymnastics. Avery ends up coaching a young Olympic hopeful who is caught up in an abuse scandal, similar to the real-life one a couple of years back. Avery’s coach was not physically abusive towards her or her best friend and teammate Jasmine (who hasn’t fared perfectly in her life, despite making it to the Olympics) but emotional abuse was prevalent. One of the best things about this book was the healing of Avery and Jasmine’s friendship.
If you like romance, gymnastics, the Olympics, reading about characters overcoming injustice, abuse, and trauma, or all of the above, this may be a good one to check out.