Book Review: Bunheads

Title/Author:  Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit

Published:  October 10th, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Hardcover, 294 pages

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  I heard about it from a bookish friend and really liked the idea of reading a contemporary YA with a dancing focus.  And the summary sounded like one of my favorite movies, Center Stage!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “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 followed the company’s unofficial mantra, “Don’t think, just dance.”  But as her relationship with Jacob intensifies, so do the pressures within the company.  With her eyes newly opened to the world beyond the theatre, Hannah must decide whether to compete against the other “bunheads” for a star soloist spot or to strike out on her own…”

My Review of the Work:

Bunheads delves into the intense word of professional ballet, depicting the stressful environment in which the dancers strive for perfection and solo opportunities.  Though this is a pretty straightforward, predictable story, it becomes unique in the world of dance.

As you can probably predict from the summary, this novel is a story about prioritizing life, figuring out what is the most important things to you, and how much of a struggle that can be.  Exhibited in such a high-stress, high-demand environment, Hannah Ward loves everything about her life until she meets someone who she doesn’t have time to fit in.  She is faced with the problems that many individuals face at some point in their lives–what are you willing to sacrifice for what you love doing?  Bunheads showcases the struggle between career and relationships (whether it be family, friends, or romances) and  the sacrifices one makes to balance the two.

I loved the dance setting for this novel.  That is the reason why I picked it up in the first place.  As a retired professional ballerina herself, Sophie Flack really captures the demanding career of a dancer in a beautiful and realistic way.  As a dancer in elementary school, I can completely relate to this story and the struggles of balance and priorities.  In fact, I was an elementary schooler going to the dance studio 4 days a week for 2 or more hours at a time and venturing to competitions 6 or more weekends a year.  When I was in 4th grade I had to make a decision:  to continue dancing, and only dancing, or doing anything else I ever wanted to do (tennis, music, etc).  And at the age of 10, I chose everything else, and even at that age it was hard.  So I completely empathized with Hannah throughout this whole novel, because I know what it’s like to struggle and sacrifice for something you love.

With such a feel-good flow to this novel, I found myself really disappointed with the ending.  I already had a sense of what was going to happen (as the plot was a little predictable), but I really felt like the ending was completely rushed through, taking a well-balanced and developed story and ending it with an “oh dear I don’t want to go over 300 pages” kind of attitude.  For as much time and effort that was put in to the rest of the story, I feel like the ending was just tacked on, and that kind of made me a bit sad.

But overall, if you are looking for a great YA chick-lit novel that you can read in a couple of hours, then Bunheads is not a bad choice for you, especially if you are familiar with and love the world of dance.  This story is familiar yet unique in setting, making it a generally likeable novel.

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Middle Shelf Book.

Bunheads proved to be a cute chick-lit story centered around the demanding world of professional ballet.  I found this novel to be a nice and easy read with a solid story but a rushed ending.  But overall, this is a likeable “read it in a day” YA chicklit read.  Word of caution, if you are not familiar with the world of ballet, you may be a little lost in the lingo.

Love and Tutus,
Jennifer

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Bunheads

  1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase says:

    I danced for 12 years, and, like you, I had to make a choice at one point. I was 16 and we were moving to a different state and I chose to just be a regular teenager. I still really miss dancing at times, and it's 16 years later! I just got really addicted to the show Dance Academy and now that I'm all caught up on that show I'm definitely going to have to pick up Bunheads to get my ballet fix! And I'm glad you enjoyed it, even though the ending seemed rushed. Great review!

  2. 365_books_a_year says:

    I used to do ballet as a kid, so I'm glad to hear it's basically good.@Andrea, there's actually a show that's new or is going to be on soon called "Bunheads". Sorry, don't regularly watch TV except Spongebob Squarepants, so I don't remember which channel it's on. But, I'm sure you can find it on imdb.com.

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