Author: Sophie Flack
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Perfect for: anyone who took dance as a kid and dreamed of it being more than a hobby!
Star Rating: 3/5 stars
Taken from Goodreads, "As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.
But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?"
I took dance class for many years as a kid and young adult. Never did I think about becoming a professional dancer nor was I ever good enough to consider it, but still once a dancer, always a dancer. I'm not a reader of contemporary YA, but 'Bunheads' had me interested in it right from the get go. First off, the last book I read about a ballet school, 'Red Shoes Will Kill You' by Dorian Cirrone, entertained me quite a bit. It's few and far between that I see YA novels set in the traditional dance world, so I try to read them when they hit the shelves. Second, the cover is actually quite nice. It's eye catching and fits with the story well. (It also helps that I recently watched an Australian TV show about kids at a prestige's dance academy and have since had dance on the brain!)
'Bunheads' isn't a romance so much as a coming of age book with some romance. It's odd for me to describe it as a 'coming of age' kind of book, being that the characters are close to or over 20 years old, but in reality, they (specifically main character Hannah) have been secluded in the dance studio most of their life and haven't yet really grown into who they are supposed to be. Hence the coming of age theme! 'Bunheads' follows Hannah, already a professional dancer by the age of 19, as she slowly ventures out into the world and sees that while she may love dancing, it may not be her one and only.
I found the character of Hannah to be very relateable, almost too relatable! I can understand her point of view, striving to reach a goal, keeping her eye on the prize, while missing out on a whole world of things. Trust me when I say, I did that throughout most of my college days and it isn't the best way to go through life! Hannah isn't the most personable of YA leads (she's a bit Meredith Grey), but her reasons make sense and her point of view is clear. Anyone who has ever wanted something so bad that they blocked out everything else will understand her. The secondary characters are engaging, though the male leads could have had a bit more personality.
As far as plot is concerned, I found 'Bunheads' to flow well. I've been in a reading rut recently, where books are just not sticking, but 'Bunheads' didn't have that feel at all. If anything, I was excited to finally get to dive into the professional world of dancing. While non dancers might think some of the issues in this novel are bizarre (ie: instructors telling characters to lose weight-- in their chest-- as to not break their body's line), dancers will hear a ring of truth in the situations Hannah and her friends find themselves in.
Is this an awe inspiring, life changing read? No. Is it an enjoyable view into the world of professional dancing and into the life of a girl who thought she had found her place, but may need to go just a little further to find where she truly needs to be? Yes!
'Bunheads' gets 3 out of 5 stars and can be found on bookshelves everywhere.