Review: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
Attention: spoilers below! This was the first book by Hannah Orenstein I've read — but it certainly won't be the last!
This is a review of Hannah Orenstein's book HEAD OVER HEELS. While I try to avoid spoilers, there are some below!
I know nothing about gymnastics — other than the fact that Simone Biles is the greatest of all time and I once got pushed off a balance beam by my coach in the 3 days I tried the sport — so I was skeptical going into this book.
It was the first book by Hannah Orenstein I've read, but it certainly won't be my last. She has also written PLAYING WITH MATCHES, LOVE AT FIRST LIKE, and MEANT TO BE MINE, which is forthcoming. I think I'll pick up LOVE AT FIRST LIKE next!
So, what’s this book about?
This book is about gymnastics, love, honesty, abuse, confidence, relationships of all kinds, and so much more.
On a daily basis, you'll join the main characters in the gym on a young woman's journey to the Olympics, led by a former Olympian and — the main character — a former almost-Olympian, Avery. You'll join her as she works to improve the field and steps out of her comfort zone in so many ways — in terms of work, relationships, standing up for herself, and more.
Avery's love interest, Ryan, in the book is also shown as a real human with faults, how we can have a limited perspective on things we don't typically see ourselves, and more. While I wasn't in love with him at the end of the book, it was great to see his growth and empathy.
Avery's life was turned upside down multiple times throughout this book. Throughout the book, readers get to see how her dreams changed and how she changed her life to make it her own.
Something this book captures really well is a reconnected friendship. I think it was great to see two of the main characters come together once again, especially while they're both on their journeys of self-love, freedom, and discovery of what is possible in the world.
Overall, I really loved this book and thought it captured so many aspects of Avery's life. Orenstein certainly has a great way of connecting you with her characters and her characters together, as well!
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I read this book just months before the Olympics, which turned out to be fantastic timing. I feel like I learned so much more about gymnastics, the Olympics, and how much dedication goes into these athletes' entire lives.
Since I already loved Simone Biles, this made me love her even more. This book gives a glimpse into the mental health of gymnasts (and athletes in general), which I think can create a more empathetic look for those who may not fully understand the intense pressure that these people go through. Their lives lead up to this one moment — and this book answers one incredibly important question: what happens if it doesn't go as planned?
In this book, you'll find conversations about abuse of all kinds, so please take that into consideration before reading.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it.
Make sure to check back soon for more notes on my thesis process over the next months, some fiction thanks to the Vocal fiction challenges, and books I've read (spoiler: I only review books I love).
About the author
Hey there, I'm Jaci Schreckengost.
Here are some pieces of my writing. They're all drafts; some on revision one, some on revision ninety.
You can see more of my work at jacischreckengost.com. I'm also on Instagram @JaciSchreckengost.