Bunheads Review

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Title: Bunheads
Author: Sophie Flack
Publisher: Poppy
Publish Date: October 10, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 294
Source: Publisher

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?
Hannah is living the dream...well, she's getting to the dream in her opinion, but to the rest of the world, she's a graceful swan dancing night after night for the Manhattan Ballet Company. She's young and talented with the world at her fingertips, and she's ready to dance her heart out for a chance to one day be a ballerina because, make no mistake, there's a difference between a dancer and a ballerina. But Hannah's lived her whole life in the world of dance, and she barely knows how to live without it. When she meets Jacob, he sends her world spinning, and Hannah realizes there's more to life than lights, and tutus and pointe shoes. Is love the answer, or is ballet her true passion?

Bunheads is a sweet novel, rich with detail and rife with the true nature of the world of dance. We, the audience, see the glitz and the glamour, while the dancers see the pain, blood and tears that fuel every awe-rendering performance. In her debut novel, Sophie Flack lives her years as a member of corps de ballet for the New York City Ballet through her protagonist. Sparing no details of the harsh reality of dance, but all the while blending the lyrical nature that one might dream ballet to be, Bunheads brings the hidden world of ballet alive.

I think that Bunheads was one of those novels that was on the cusp of greatness in so many aspects. Yet, in the same breath, I felt there was something that could potentially have pushed it over the edge to flawlessness. I know that sounds contradictory, but allow me to explain. The beauty of Bunheads lies within the details. If you know anything about the author, then you know she kept detailed diaries about her life in the New York City Ballet, and those real moments can be felt and chronicled throughout Bunheads. It's reality, and I can sense that, which is a beautiful and amazing gift to give a reader. But there's something to be said for those creative liberties and adjectives that send the reader over the edge with drama and tension. At times, it was those few details and moments that I felt were, perhaps, lacking. That said though, Bunheads was tangible and real, as was its protagonist, Hannah. It was almost as though the author's soul in dance sang through her, giving us unique and personal glimpse at the world of dance through the author's eyes, but also access to Hannah's mind. There's a beauty in the pages of Bunheads that is as rich and evocative as the gravity-defying grace of dancers, but there's also a hunger in me as a reader for more angst and more drama, much like Hannah's hunger for a taste of real life. Ultimately, it's the truth of the novel that rings through, but the peace and calm of the novel that is its one fault.

Overall, though Bunheads might not be one of those novels that stays with me forever, it was a lovely read and one that I will definitely mention to friends. I was never a good dancer, but Bunheads gave me a taste of that life, which I loved. I give it a strong 3.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to fans of YA and contemporary fiction.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

23 comments:

  1. That's interesting that its strength is also it's flaw, but totally understandable. While reality and authenticity can draw us in, sometimes it's just not enough to keep us hooked. Great review, Melissa!

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  2. I just got this from the library so I'm glad you liked it even if it wasn't perfect. I know exactly what you mean about a book being on the cusp of greatness. I've read many a book like that.

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  3. Throughout you description of the author's style, I kept wanting to know more about the characters. While it sounds like a really well written story, I felt that perhaps the characterization lacked the force to send this one over the top. That being said I still would love to red this and believe it will appeal to many of my students. Lovely review!

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  4. Loved this book! I even posted a short clip of my dancing days! LOL! Great review!

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  5. The disconnected feeling towards characters is something I have a hard time with the reader. Though the book might be great, it still feels a bit off, kinda like a phantom limb almost. Great, honest review.

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  6. Very intriguing review. I'll have to see if my library gets this one, it sounds like it has plenty of good moments.

    Thanks for your honesty! :)

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  7. I'm not sure if I'll be picking this one up. Feeling disconnected to the characters is usually not for me. Anywho, thanks for the honest review, Melissa!

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  8. I really want to read this one, it just sounds good!!! It looks different, from contemporary reads nowadays.
    Nice review!

    -Mariana @Smart Girls Read

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  10. I adore that cover, I was never a dancer but when I was a little girl I wanted to be a ballerina horse rider...(hmmm)

    My point- well this one and the Scorpio Races are on the top of the TBR pile...:D

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  11. I really want to read this one, it just sounds good!!! It looks different, from contemporary reads nowadays.
    Nice review!

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  12. Ah, I see. Very interesting! I love me some melodrama, but Bunheads' subtleties might be refreshing. I'm very interested in this one after hearing that the author based the book off of her own experiences! Thanks for the insightful review, Melissa! :)

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  13. I just finished Bunheads and I couldn't agree with your review more. I learned a lot about the world of ballet but there was just something missing that would have taken it over the edge. I absolutely love the cover though!

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  14. I think it would be a book I would read, just not buy. Cos it does sound worthwhile even if not everlasting

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  15. Reality is nice, but I think a lot of us read to escape that. So pushing over the edge of reality, that would have been the better story, definitely. Glad I read your review so I know what to expect. You always say it so eloquently.

    Heather

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  16. I'll check this one out at the library. Nice honest review!

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  17. This sounds interesting! I have a weak spot for books about girls in Teh Ballet; it's of long standing, since I read Rumer Godden when I was a little girl. I'm adding this to the list, while being prepared for it not to be awesome.

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  18. I've been wanting to read this one. I actually just read Audition, which is also about dance but is quite different and is in verse, and I LOVED it (though I'm a HUGE fan of verse). I'm not very knowledgeable about dance of any sort (I like to watch it on TV and that's about it) but for some reason the lives of dancers are fascinating. And I assume there's MUCH more to it then just the dance.
    And I ADORE this cover!

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  19. I love this cover--it looks so ethereal! I'd think there'd be a lot more angst and drama in an arena as high-pressure as ballet, sad it didn't come through quite enough. Still, I'm definitely going to have to read this!

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  20. This is a book I still really want to read, but at least I'll be prepped. I just love the background and story behind all of it and I think it makes it so much better that Ms. Flack has had personal experience. Loved this review, Melissa. You have this way of saying things that I love.

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  21. I think I know what you mean about taking creative liberties. It's good that the author was able to draw on real life experience though!

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