By Sophie Flack
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010
304 pages (hardcover)
As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances, and complicated backstage relationships. But when she meets a spontaneous and irresistibly cute musician named Jacob, her universe begins to change.
Until now, Hannah has happily followed the company's unofficial mantra, "Don't think, just dance." But as Jacob opens her eyes to the world beyond the theater, Hannah must decide whether to compete against the other "bunheads" for a star soloist spot or to strike out on her own. (from barnesandnoble.com)
I picked up this book to read after seeing that there will be a TV show called ”Bunheads” on ABC Family this summer. Spoiler Alert: from what I can tell, the novel Bunheads is absolutely nothing like the TV show will be. Oh well.
Bunheads is a fun novel filled with friend and boy drama, questions of identity and future, and a good mix of silly and serious. This was a quick read that entertained me, but never made me think too hard. What is even more awesome, the author, Sophie Flack, was once a dancer who left that world to go to college and become a writer. I am not sure exactly how much of Bunheads is based on her own life and experiences, but Sophie really allows the readers to feel like they have a backstage pass into the mysterious world of ballet.
I have seen the Royal British Ballet while living in New Zealand, the Russian Ballet while studying in Latvia, and the Butler University Ballet so many times as a student watching my friends perform and as an alumni just wanting to see some good ballet. For all the ballets I have seen and dancers I have known, I never realized how difficult ballet really was. I mean, I definitely knew I would never be able to do the stuff they can do on the dance floor, but the hours of practice these men and women endure and the dedication the exhibit to the art is amazing.
The extremely long hours, cut-throat competition, and physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that Hannah (and her friends) goes through was eye-opening. I didn’t always like Hannah’s attitude or decisions, but her commitment to her craft definitely made her more endearing.
Although it might be fun to twirl around on stage in a pretty tutu, I am glad that I never had any promise the one year I took ballet. Bunheads was a great book, but it made me realize that there is definitely no way I could have handled the life of a ballerina.