Review: Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Bunheads by Sophie FlackBook Title/Author: Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Publisher/Year: : Little Brown, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: None as of now. It’s her debut novel!

Amazon| Goodreads | Sophie Flack’s website

 While most of her peers are navigating their way through living on their own in college, 19 year old Hannah Ward has lived on her own in Manhattan for years to live her dream to make it into the ultra competitive Manhattan Ballet Company. Her peers go to classes and parties; Hannah enjoys hours of workouts, rehearsals, & performances which is all part of the strenuous life of a professional dancer just waiting to be noticed for a soloist position. It’s all part of her plan — every single blister, every diet, every sore muscle means she’s coming closer to making it and stepping out from the crowd of other dancers vying for the same parts. Her dedication to her dream never wavers until she meets Jacob — a musician and college student who introduces her to the possibilities of a life unbound from stringent schedules and very little free time outside the ballet and makes her start to question what’s important to her in her life or if she’s okay with giving up  “normal life” for a life trying to make it to the spotlight.

Bunheads was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that gives a darker (not Black Swan dark!), somewhat  grittier picture to the world of professional ballet — a world that,  from the audience, is nothing short of graceful, beautiful  & elegant. Sophie Flack succeeds in portraying the captivating beauty of the ballet while balancing it with the ugly and cutthroat reality that happen at that level of success. Eating disorders, backstabbing, excessive exercise & exhaustion is the norm. Sophie Flack writes this world all in a way that pulls you in to this unfamiliar lifestyle — at least for me — as the extent of my dance career was three years of tap class.You can tell that the author was in fact a professional ballet dancer as she lends her knowledge of the world of ballet that really seems quite realistic in her descriptions — from the technical aspect to the magical feeling and rush a dancer gets in being on stage and performing these movements so gracefully and in sync. I really felt like I was getting the inside scoop on life behind the curtain. Like an E! True Hollywood Story.

I was nervous at first, as I am with any fiction that delves into a “specialty”, that it will be too technical or that it will lose me because the author can’t make the lifestyle accessible to the average reader who hasn’t lived a life like that. Thankfully Bunheads was not overwrought with too much technical detail that it went over my head and never did I feel too distant from Hannah’s lifestyle that I didn’t connect with her. In fact, I really connected with Hannah in a way that I haven’t with another character. Her struggle to find balance in her life, figure out who she is and who she wants to be, her sacrifice for her dreams — they resonated with me and felt extremely real. I loved Jacob’s role in this but I loved that he didn’t instantly come into her life and help “save her”. It was HER figuring out what she wanted. SHE struggled to try to balance her dreams with wanting to be a normal girl with a normal life.  He just helped perpetuate that. It was a very sweet romance — one that I really enjoyed to watch develop — even when I wanted to body slam Hannah for ditching him. But it was SO realistic. No girl with dreams so high would immediately leave it all for a boy.

Bunheads by Sophie Flack truly was one of my favorite reads this year! It wasn’t a fast-paced nor an overly dramatic portrayal like you might see in a tv show or movie but the world of ballet portrayed in Bunheads was even more captivating, in my opinion, because it seemed REAL as opposed to a drama-rama, hair pulling, scandalous story . It was gritty and a tinge shocking (like from how the “hide” their breasts to how they make their shoes fit to their crazy schedules) but it was also subtle, beautiful and magical and you can feel why it is someone’s dream. You’ll root for Hannah and Jacob but even more you’ll root for Hannah as she struggles to figure out what she wants — a plight we all can sympathize with.  Bravo, Sophie Flack, bravo. I can’t get this book out of my mind.

 

PS. Also loved this book because it seemed to be a bit of an “older” YA!

 

Bunheads by Sophie Flack

 

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe,

 

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. I loved your review, Jamie. This sounds like such a wonderfully realistic story and I have a feeling it will be popular with all the Dance Academy love right now!

    • YES! That was what I was thinking when I was reading it. There seems to be an influx of shows like this..and obviously Bunheads the tv show on ABC family as well..which I totally thought was based on the book lol

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. I MUST READ THIS. Unrelated but related, I was so distracted by the STEP UP on my TV yesterday morning. I love love dance movies, and I also love dance books. Sasha was just talking about this book at dinner last week, and I know I need to pick it up. Perhaps my library has it… Thanks for the great review J!

    • YOU MUST! I really think you will like it! I TOTALLY am with you on loving dance books and movies. I used to freaking love Step Up and Save the Last Dance! Minus Julia Stiles awkward dancing at first in the club. lol Thanks for the comment, E!

  3. This book sounds so interesting. The problems sound so relatable and I’m always sucked in by behind the scenes stories.

    • Ashley — ME TOO! I love behind the scenes type stories written by someone you KNOW has had a first hand experience in the industry. Makes it more interesting!

  4. Great review! This seems like a wonderful New Adult novel! I’ve passed by the book countless times and for on reason thought it would be fluffy. Glad you’ve shown me that it’s not! I live stories about ballet.

    • Yes! It’s definitely good for those wanting something more “New Adult” as the protag is older than most of the YA characters you might come across. I honestly got this from BEA 2011 and just kind of ignored it since then because, like you, I thought it was just going to be sort of fluffy and dull..but I totally fell in love with it!

  5. I’ve definitely got my eye out for this one. Great review! I wish I had it right now.

  6. I really, really, really need to read this book. I mean, first of all – BALLET! I used to be a ballet dancer (made it all the way to pointe shoes!) but I ended up giving it up (which I regret now). And second of all – TRANSFORMATION, GROWING UP, MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT LIFE! Yay!

  7. I’ve never heard of this book before so I’m so glad you reviewed it! I can’t wait to read this – I love everything dance. A book I read in the spring I’d recommend on a similar note is The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey!!

    • I think you’ll enjoy it for sure if you really love books about dance! And thanks for the recommendation! I’ll be for sure checking out The Cranes Dance!

  8. I read this book at the beginning of the year, and really liked it. Great review!

  9. Glad you enjoyed it as well! Thanks for the comment!

  10. I LOVED THIS BOOK! It was so beautifully written and I thought it was so refreshing to be reading about a character who was 19 and a little more mature than most other YA characters. I swear there still needs to be an in-between set of books for people from 18-28 or something, for those of us that are adults, but don’t have kids yet.

  11. Looks amazing, will try to source it! I loved ballet books when I was younger and I adore ballet films. It sounds great.

  12. I enjoyed this book as well. I love ballet and this was a wonderful book to read to see more of the behind-the-scenes life of a ballerina. Much grittier and not as glamorous as I used to think when I was much younger! Very well-written and I look forward to more from this author!

  13. Is it bad that I couldn’t help thinking of the cheesy-but-awesome movie “Center Stage” while reading your review? I’m intrigued!

  14. Just read this a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it much mere than I expected!

  15. I LOVE your review. As a dancer, I think (I know) I need to read this book. I don’t even know why I have never heard of it before!

  16. Hmmm… love any sort of dance movie, so this may be a fun read.

  17. I just saw this one at Chapters a few weeks (months? man, I need to get out more) ago and was really intrigued. I did ballet for three years when I was younger and wish I had been able to keep it up (with a single mom, something had to go and, for us, it was ballet) and I’ve always been interested in it. I’ll definitely be looking this one up. Perhaps my library will have it! I’m glad to know you really enjoyed it. :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] peg this book to give me an emotional response like it did. I also really was surprised by Bunheads by Sophie Flack — I was just curious by it but didn’t expect to really love it like I […]

  2. […] Elizabeth Eulberg Amplified by Tara Kelly Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer Bunheads by Sophie Flack Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson If I Stay & Where She Went by […]

  3. […] Bunheads by Sophie Flack: I really liked this book — a look into the world of highly competitive ballet. I’ve always been jealous of graceful ballerinas and the close I’ll ever come to being one is at Halloween. Easy peasy costume to put together. Perfect time to do that sock bun you’ve always wanted to try! […]

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