I’m a big fan of Henning’s books. So when I saw It’s All in How You Fall I knew I had to read it. And then I found out it has to do with gymnastics and I screeched. As someone who was a gymnast until I was injured (not career ending, but still), this book was made for me. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Gymnast Caroline Kepler has three state balance beam titles, a new trick even most elites can’t do, and chronic, undeniable back pain. While she might never be an Olympian, she has dreams of leveling up to elite, making Nationals, and competing in college. But when one epic face-plant changes all that and Caroline’s back pain goes from chronic to career-ending, her dreams are shattered and her life is flipped upside down.
Enter Alex Zavala, a three-sport athlete who’s both incredibly cute and incredibly off-limits. He offers to give Caroline a crash course in all the sports she’s missed, and she has an offer for him in return: For every sport Alex teaches her, she’ll play matchmaker for him. Deal done, Caroline “dates” new sports with Alex for the rest of the summer, which is loads more fun than wallowing in despair. Just as Caroline starts to see herself as more than her past athletic successes, she picks up something she didn’t bargain for: a big fat crush on Alex. Turns out life was way easier when it was just layout-fulls and beam burns….
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
As a teen, I spent years in a gym. At one point I even placed first in the state. Never one for competition, I wasn’t sure when I would ever stop. Until I fell out of a back flip and landed on my neck. My neck sprain, which left me unable to do much of anything (gymnastics, ballet, sit in cars without pain) was not a career ending injury. What was ended up being that it reminded me of my mortality. And that fear fresh off the pain, was. So to say that It’s All in How You Fall was a book made for me is no understatement.
While I don’t know what it’s like to suffer an injury that ends my dreams, I know what it’s like to have to say goodbye to a dream. Which I why I think It’s All in How You Fall is so moving. We don’t have to have had this physically demanding dream. You just need to know what it’s like to pour yourself entirely into something. And when you have to say goodbye, to not realize who you are without it. To take a step back and ask yourself, “is this all I am?”
How a dream, an idea for our life, becomes our whole personality. It’s All in How You Fall is certainly a summer romance. It’s full of swoony butterflies, but it’s also about grief. About losing a piece of ourselves we once thought of as crucial. And having to grieve that ending. Both Alex and Caroline struggle with definition. With wondering if we’re just destined to be “the injured gymnast” or “the tennis player”. And to figure out just exactly how much we will sacrifice to chase that. While also thinking about when it’s time to change.
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The romance in It’s All in How You Fall is chefs kiss. There’s a little clueless-ness – but we love it – and if you like the idea of a brother’s best friend and his younger sister, you have to read this one. The chemistry and the banter are swoony. It will melt your heart. Cinnamon roll love interest fans should flock to this one. It’s All in How You Fall is a perfect summer read to illustrate that maybe perfection it’s all it’s cracked up to be. Find It’s All in How You Fall on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.