Magan: Bunheads by Sophie Flack

book cover for bunheads by sophie flack, books about ballet dancersBunheads by Sophie Flack [website | twitter]
Publication Date: October 10, 2011
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 304
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format read: Paperback received from Sash at Sash and Em

Summary: Hannah is a 19-year-old professional ballet dancer. She finds herself torn between trying to get promoted in her company and wanting to explore more of the world around her. Meeting Jacob awakens her sense of discovery and complicates everything.

I’ve always been the girl obsessed with dance movies (can I get an amen for Channing Tatum in Step Up and how many times have I re-watched Center Stage?!). I love everything about them – the music, the emotion, the way an entire story can be told without words in a performance.

When Sasha heard I was interested in Bunheads, she thoughtfully sent me her copy. (Thanks so much, Sash!) Inside this beautiful book, I found all of my favorite elements of a dance movie, in addition to getting a glimpse at the inner workings of a ballet company. Author Sophie Flack was a professional dancer; there should be no doubt that while this story is fictional, she gives us the most authentic insider’s scoop on what it’s like to constantly be in competition with your peers.

Hannah wanted nothing more than to gain a spot as a soloist. BUT, so did every other girl in the company. These girls worked day in and day out with one another; while they were competitive, they were also forced to be friends. Hannah’s greatest competition was also a girl who shared her dressing room. They griped and complained to one another, judged each other’s performances, and confided in each other about the pressure to remain fit and thin. They had little ability to have a life outside of the dance studios. The girls are older – Hannah is 19 – and I found it refreshing to read about characters who were in this pivotal, life-defining period of their life.

On a random (rare) night out, Hannah meets Jacob. He’s intrigued by Hannah and actively pursues her. Insert the struggles she faces. She wants to spend time with him too, but also feels like she’s thisclose to being promoted. The romantic in me wished so many times for more Jacob. However, after much deliberation, I’ve decided that I wouldn’t have felt the turmoil Hannah went through if everything had been easy breezy with Jacob. I kept hoping that absence would make the heart grow fonder. (And I won’t be the one to spoil what happens between these two.)

The pacing in Bunheads was absolutely perfect. Time seemed to pass by exactly as it was described (dontcha hate when you’re reading a book and that’s not the case?). The character development was enough that I had a good idea of who everyone was and could understand the motives behind their actions. In a book where dance truly is a main focal point, I never felt overwhelmed by the ballet-speak. I felt as though things were explained well and I could envision the graceful dances as they went through the motions.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves dance or a sweet, understated story. It was Bunheads by Sophie Flack that pulled me up out of my reading slump and introduced me to a world very different than most other young adult books I read. Definitely pick this one up and allow yourself to be whisked away into the world of dance and competition.

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