IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU FALL
Author: Sarah Hennings
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publishing date: May 31st, 2022
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
A contemporary young adult romance about moving on, finding your place, and recovering after life falls apart.
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….
Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star and Associated Press, among others. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids, and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, hometown of Langston Hughes, William S. Burroughs, and a really good basketball team.
Sarah is the author of SEA WITCH, which was a 2018 Indies Introduce and Indie’s Next selection. Its follow up, SEA WITCH RISING, came out in 2019. THROW LIKE A GIRL, about a down-spiraling softball player who is recruited to play quarterback on her ex-boyfriend’s football team, was her first YA contemporary novel and came out in January 2020. THE PRINCESS WILL SAVE YOU, the first book in her fantasy trilogy—a feminist tale inspired by The Princess Bride—came out in July 2020. Its sequel, THE QUEEN WILL BETRAY YOU, came out on July 6, 2021.
Other upcoming projects include THE KING WILL KILL YOU, available August 2, 2022 and will be the conclusion to her Kingdoms of Sand & Sky Trilogy inspired by The Princess Bride. Also scheduled for summer 2022 is IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU FALL, available May 31, 2022, which takes place in the same fictional universe as THROW LIKE A GIRL. Slated for summer 2023 is OUT OF OUR LEAGUE, a YA anthology of contemporary short stories about girls in sports.
Q1: Hi there Sarah! I am so happy to have you here with us! Before we begin, do share some interesting facts about yourself with us!
Ans: Hi! Thanks so much for having me! I’m a former sports journalist turned YA author. It’s All in How You Fall, which came out May 31 st is my sixth YA novel and my second contemporary YA. It’s a companion to Throw Like a Girl, which came out just before the pandemic took hold in 2020. My debut was Sea Witch in 2018, and I’ve been super lucky to be prolific in both contemporary and fantasy. When I’m not writing, I’m probably running, lifting weights, or hanging out with my two kids and husband. Other important things about me, considering the subject matter of this interview: I’m a huge fan of Chiefs football, Jayhawks basketball, Rafael Nadal, and the USA Gymnastics team.
Q2: I read the book recently, and it centers a lot around gymnastics. What has your relationship with the sport been, and how did it influence your writing of this book?
Ans: So, I have to admit that I held this back from your first “about me” question: I was a gymnast for ten years. Like Caroline, I was a competitive gymnast. I wasn’t nearly as good as Caroline, but I lived the life of 25-hour weeks in the gym coming to an end with a chronic back injury. Gymnastics is an all-consuming sport that doesn’t leave much room for the cultivation for pretty much anything else. If you do it seriously, even if you’re not elite, you tend not to have time to play other sports, take music lessons, or do much of anything organized outside of school. When I quit, much like Caroline, I was suddenly at a loss. My identity had been tied to being a gymnast more than I knew, and for quite some time I felt out of sorts.
A lot of athletes have similar experiences no matter the sport in high school—suddenly they don’t make varsity, or they get injured, or they play throughout high school only to have it suddenly over when college starts. That exchange of identity when it’s tied to an action you no longer do is something about IAIHYF that I think will feel universal to some readers. No matter where you are in your life or what you like to do, we all have complicated relationships with the “end of an era.”
Q3: The cover of this novel is beautiful, and rather different from the cover of your other books. What was the cover design process like?
Ans: Thank you! I knew we were going to have another cover illustrated by the amazing Ana Hard (the paperback cover of Throw Like a Girl was also done by Ana) and had an idea very early on that I wanted the handstand contests that appear in the book to be represented on the cover somehow. I sent the design team a picture I was in love with of a girl upside down in a handstand kissing a boy who’s laying on his back in the grass. It was really cute and conveyed the feeling I wanted to go along with the title and it’s literal and figurative meanings. We went from there and settled on the handstands facing each other, which turned out so cute.
Q4: Alex seems like the perfect guy, and he’s my second favourite character of the book (after Nat!). Pardon me if the question seems slightly personal, but what inspired you to write him the way you did?
Ans: LOL, first of all I’m glad you loved Nat because he doesn’t make it easy sometimes, especially in the first part of the book! Secondly, I think Alex is pretty great too. I tend to meet my characters on the page and not go into my stories determined to make them one way or another. Alex just introduced himself as a kind, put-together kid with far too much on his plate and absolutely no desire to pull back on any of his commitments. He’s a good looking-guy, yeah, but his most attractive qualities are probably his compassion, loyalty, and competence. He’s a gentle, engaged teacher and is the perfect person to pick up Caroline after she falls apart.
Q5: I loved the inclusion of so many sports in the novel! Have you played multiple sports as well? What’s your favourite?
Ans: I actually haven’t played multiple sports. Unlike Caroline, I didn’t have an older brother whose hot friend could teach me anything. I quit gymnastics right before my freshman year of high school and I tossed myself into a bunch of non-sports activities and started running, because my parents are runners, and that felt like an easy transition. That said, I know quite a bit about a bunch of other sports because I was a sports journalist for several years. That gave me the background to write about sports in a way that I hope make them accessible to readers who may not have a background in the sports being depicted.
Q6: Lastly, what do you hope readers will take away from this novel?
Ans: Starting over and finding yourself again after the end of a dream is such a hard but common human experience. I wish my readers to find a little comfort in their own lives with Caroline’ story of beginning anew.
Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!