Author: Sophie Flack
Publish Date: October 10, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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.