Bunheads is a YA contemporary novel by debut author and former dancer Sophie Flack.
Nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward lives, breathes, and dreams ballet. Since she was a very young girl, she knew she wanted to be a dancer. Her parents took her to dance lessons - but then at fourteen she was offered the chance to move to New York, alone, and join the super-prestigious Manhattan Ballet company.
Her focus and drive is entirely centered on dance. She's always either rehearsing, performing, or conditioning. One of these days she hopes to get noticed in the crowd of beautiful, talented dancers and be singled out for a solo. If only she can stay thin enough, strong enough, and passionate enough.
That's never been a problem before. But then Hannah meets Jacob.
He's a college student, a musician, and incredibly cute. And interested in her. He's a nice guy, their conversations are fun, and their attraction seems to be mutual. But he's not a dancer. He doesn't understand her life. How can he?
All of a sudden Hannah's entire universe shifts - her perspective changes. She begins to notice how much pressure she's under, how she has next to no time for a life outside of her career - things that never bothered her in the past. Yet now she has the potential of more, of something new and exciting - and she's missing it.
While shifting through the backstage drama, competition that never de-escalates, and her own personal dreams and career goals, Hannah realizes that she has to make a choice.
Professional dancer... or normal girl?
Bunheads instantly placed me in the world of pro ballet where cattiness, competition, and dreams are clearly fierce right from the start. It has a a truly interesting and unique perspective, but I'll be honest - Bunheads didn't pop for me right away.
However, it didn't take too long and didn't require too much patience to begin settling into the story and become fascinated with the inside details that longtime dancer Sophie Flack is able to provide - and the work ethic and passion that demands respect and awe. Once I started to see how Hannah's life is held back by her devotion, I began to get invested in the story and really care what happened to her.
There's a maturity and realism to Bunheads that interested me - I rooted for Hannah to have more, yet also didn't want her to give up her dreams. She's worked so long and so hard at one goal, you can feel the utter heartwrenching pain of her choice.
Bunheads is a coming-of-age, turnpoint-in-life kind of story that Sophie Flack gives raw, stark depth to. At times it is painful to read, because Flack makes it easy to understand and sympathize with the life of a dancer, even though that kind of single-minded drive at such a young age may be foreign to most of us.
I was amazed at the eventual reaction Bunheads got from me. This debut novel is goosebump inspiring and empowering! Here we have a fresh, clear, bright novel that convinced me of its relevance and utter worth, slowly but surely! I hope Sophie Flack provides more reading material soon!!!
Wow! Bunheads is a powerful surprise! My bibliophile opinion? You should read this!
*I received a review copy of Bunheads from Hachette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.