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Bunheads

de Sophie Flack

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3822868,236 (3.66)17
Hannah Ward, nineteen, revels in the competition, intense rehearsals, and dazzling performances that come with being a member of Manhattan Ballet Company's corps de ballet, but after meeting handsome musician Jacob she begins to realize there could be more to her life.
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Rating: 4 1/2 stars

I love when authors write about what they know as it tends to be the most realistic way to learn about a topic. Sophie Flack is particularly qualified to write this book and it would not be nearly as realistic if the author did not have Sophie’s ballet background. While the complaint of many reviews I read was that the book was littered with too many French, dance-specific terms, to the extent that it detracted from the story, I disagree – this is an exceptional and unique look into the lives of young professional dancers.

Hannah reminds me a great deal of one of my own protagonists, Natalie, my goalie girl. Hannah debates the merits of dedicating her life to ballet, a career that will last a decade, if she’s lucky, or following the path of most nineteen-year-olds in New York City and enrolling in college. My character, Natalie, debates following the seemingly impossible dream of becoming a professional goalie or going to college like most girls her age. In addition, the themes of Bunheads are marvelously true to life – so true that I found myself often wondering if Bunheads is semi-autobiographical. Hannah’s relationship with Jacob is completely recognizable as it is filled with confusion and muddled emotions and feelings – common identifying aspects of most relationships of actual young adults.

There’s a thought that crosses most young adults’ minds more than once during their college years, “Did I make the right choices so far in my life or is it time for a change?” While I found Bunheads in the young adult section of Barnes and Noble, it really embodies the new “New Adult” genre and fuels my dream to see more books about actual young adults and college-age girls trying to figure their lives out on the book shelves of my local book store. ( )
  smorton11 | Oct 29, 2022 |
This book has been on my TBR pile for some time. This was an okay read, the story is pretty typical YA contemporary fiction and the writing is okay but could have flowed better.

This was a quick read about a girl named Hannah who dances at the Met as a ballet dancer. It was an interesting look into the grueling and rigorous career of a ballet dancer.

Even though Hannah is older (19) this is very much a coming of age story and is YA appropriate. When Hannah meets a young musician named Jacob she starts to question her dedication to ballet and begins to wonder what other things she is missing by being trapped in rehearsals and productions all day and night.

It is an interesting look at how total dedication to be great at one thing can completely strip away everything else in your life. While this does provide some food for thought I thought the book was a bit bland and predictable.

The writing is okay but not great. It doesn't flow as well as it could and I had some trouble picturing the settings. The characters are engaging if somewhat stereotypical.

Overall it was an okay read and an interesting look into the world of dance. However, it's pretty predictable and was a bit boring at points. ( )
  krau0098 | Jul 22, 2017 |
Hannah Ward, nineteen, revels in the competition, intense rehearsals, and dazzling performances that come with being a member of Manhattan Ballet's Company's corps de ballet, but after meeting handsome musician Jacob she begins to realize there could be more to her life. ( )
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
Hannah Ward, nineteen, revels in the competition, intense rehearsals, and dazzling performances that come with being a member of Manhattan Ballet's Company's corps de ballet, but after meeting handsome musician Jacob she begins to realize there could be more to her life. ( )
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
I found Bunheads by Sophie Flack to be a delightful novel. It shows what it’s like to be a ballet dancer in the Manhattan Ballet-one of the best companies in the world. The dancers endure long hours, grueling workouts, and a lot of drama between performances. Flack’s voice is full of fluidity and beauty. She engaged me from the first line.
“My name is Hannah Ward. I am not a Ballerina”
Hannah Ward is nineteen years old. When she was fourteen, she gave up her life to follow her passion. Dance. And when I say she gave up her life, she really did give up everything. She left her family, friends, and education behind. As Hannah continued her training, her schedules became even more packed. She began to regret that she didn’t have time to see more of the beautiful New York. She also wished she could have a relationship, friendly and romantic, with people outside the MBA Theatre. Hannah is not a ballerina. Ballerinas are the soloists and principals. Hannah is still on her way. She is young and determined, and has a bright future.
Hannah’s sole dream is to be promoted to soloist. For this to happen, she has to be recognized by her disciplined and unapproachable instructor Otto. When readers meet Hannah, she is incredibly ambitious. She takes extra classes to get in better shape and works harder than anyone in class. Flack’s writing has you rooting for Hannah throughout the entire novel-even when she begins to doubt herself and her career. Flack writes are Hannah perfectly-because she knew what it was like to dance in a premier ballet company. The dance terminology really brings the novel together. We are thrown into Hannah’s life headfirst. Rehearsal after class after workout after rehearsal.
Dance is Hannah’s life. She spends every single day at the MBA Theatre. Good thing she has such entertaining friends. In Hannah’s dressing room, we have Zoe, Daisy, Bea and Leni. The novel mainly focuses on the first three. Zoe is antagonistic. She was born and raised rich, and walks with a haughty attitude that no one enjoys. Because of their similar looks and bodies, Zoe and Hannah are often pitted against each other for parts. No matter how rude or careless Zoe gets, Hannah still loves her. Zoe was Hannah’s first friends at MBA-back when she was barely a teenager. She had no family with her. Zoe invited her over constantly and the two became fast friends. Zoe shows her soft side occasionally, and has some really sweet moments with Hannah.
Bea is Hannah’s closest friend. Bea is very flamboyant and funny. She teases Hannah and helps with her relationship (Which I will get to in a moment). I really love Bea and Hannah’s friendship. It is incredibly genuine. When Hannah is tired of never getting good parts in the new Ballets and wants to quit, Bea is constantly by her side giving her praise and encouragement. Everyone needs a friend like that. Our last roommate is Daisy. Daisy is the youngest of the group. At only sixteen years old, Daisy is constantly looked over. The rest of the group bashes her when she thinks she deserved a role. I think that was pretty low of them. If Daisy deserved the role, her friends should be happy, regardless of her age.
Hannah’s life at the Manhattan Ballet is monotonous. However, I loved reading about it. Dance has always interested me. Whether it’s modern or ballet. I love watching, learning and reading about it. Especially all the behind the scenes looks we get. A personal connection for me is The Nutcracker. MY dad and I have gone to the Nutcracker at the Pacific Northwest Ballet for almost 15 years. I love the show and the dancers-even the background ones like Hannah. In Bunheads, Flack takes us behind the scenes of The Nutcracker. Truth is, the dancers hate Nutcracker season. Almost all of them –especially the corps de ballet members who are always cast as dancing as a snowflake and a flower. They hate dancing the same dance every night. They hate the fake snow-which in Bea’s case gets everywhere. I mean everywhere. Even in her silverware drawer at her apartment. I think information like this is so interesting. Who would have thought that the dancers hate the most popular holiday performance?
Now we have Jacob. Funny, persistent, Jacob. When Hannah meet’s Jacob they have a quick connection. HE is fascinated by her dancing credentials and she is impressed by his skills on the guitar. They remain in touch and have a cute, yet stressful relationship. For Hannah, it is incredibly hard. She only has one night off a week and she usually spends it at the gym. She now has to make a choice about the relationship. At first, she chooses dance-which is what I would’ve done. She has worked so hard for her career and the title of soloist is so close. When Hannah becomes less and less available, Jacob has had enough. And honestly, I don’t blame him. He only got to see her a little bit every could weeks. I’d be disappointed too. They have a pretty messy breakup. Hannah rededicates herself to dance, but doesn’t forget the time she shared with Jacob. HE introduced her to entire world outside the theatre.
In her limited free time, Hannah also spends some time with Matt. A super rich teen who spends a lot of time at the Ballet. He does many nice things for Hannah, like buying her clothes and food, but it’s not a love connection. So Hannah- semi-politely- tells him to back off.
Hannah is trying her best to stay optimistic about her future at the MBA. People are being promoted to soloists at every turn-including Zoe. IT dawns on Hannah that life isn’t going to get easier. She wasn’t truly happy in her shoes. People around her notice she doesn’t smile. Hannah realizes that if she is promoted to soloist, than she would have even less time outside the theatre-which is now her…obsession?
Hannah does something totally unexpected. She leaves the Manhattan Ballet Company. Quits. Out. Afterwards, she resumes her relationship with Jacob. Hannah doesn’t give up dancing altogether, though, she is now a dance instructor to children who are just learning ballet and dance. I know Hannah will make a great teacher.
The only thing I didn’t particularly like was the ending. I really thought that Hannah would consider chasing her dreams. And her dreams have always been dance. Hannah is a great example of how dreams can change, though. She grew out of the hard life of a Dancer. It just wasn’t for her, and it took an insurmountable amount of courage to do what she did.
Bunheads is a hidden gem of contemporary fiction. Flacks knowledge of the dance world really shows in her writing. Readers were transported into the wings while Hannah dances. WE feel the sweat pour down our backs as the rest of the class practices at the barre. Bunheads is a candid look at the world of dance, and a fast paced read that was surprisingly enjoyable.

Review originally posted on Goodreads.com
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1391416307?book_show_action=false ( )
  MyBookishThoughts | Sep 20, 2015 |
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For all of the unsung heroes in the back line of the corps de ballet
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My name is Hannah Ward. Don't call me a ballerina.
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Hannah Ward, nineteen, revels in the competition, intense rehearsals, and dazzling performances that come with being a member of Manhattan Ballet Company's corps de ballet, but after meeting handsome musician Jacob she begins to realize there could be more to her life.

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