Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Release Date: October 10th, 2011
Hachette, 294 Pages
Source: Advance Reader Copy
Age Group: Young Adult
As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.
But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah’s universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other “bunheads” in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?
Bunheads takes us into the life of Ms. Hannah Ward, a corp dancer for the Manhattan Ballet. We follow her through her ups and downs, the “complicated backstage relationships” she maintains, and her on-going struggle between having a “real life” and being a ballet dancer.
I don’t think I can say enough good things about this book. It was definitely one of my favorite reads this year. Why, do you ask? Well, let me tell you.
The realness of this novel.
This wasn’t some fairytale-land where Hannah was magically gifted with dance and everything came naturally to her. No! She works her tail off and is often to the point of exhaustion. I loved that the book really painted her in this hardworking light. It made me like her, but moreso than that, it made me RESPECT her (and her work ethic).
Also, the expertise of Ms. Flack’s ballet terminology and insight was just..amazing. I felt like no amount of research could have brought home that true feeling of what it’s like to stand behind the curtain before a performance. Or what it feels like to have this insane amount of pressure placed on you. For me, it was just the little things that Hannah talked about that gave me this insider perspective that really made the book special.
It kept me guessing until the end.
Would Hannah get a solo? Get promoted to Principal? How were her performances going to turn out? Would she dance or not dance? Matt or Jacob? I mean, I had no idea what was going to happen and it was kind of fun to guess and wonder and ask myself, if it were ME, what would I do?? Hannah was torn, as was I. And that never happens to me. I always want the character to do THIS or THAT. I’m never like..”Oh..I just don’t know…”
And I think most of all, what I loved about this book was the message that I got from it. And that was, if you love something, then do it. But once you stop loving something, why continue with it? You’ve got to enjoy life!
This was a spectacular debut novel and if you like YA Contemporary, I can guarantee you’ll enjoy this.