Thursday 12 April 2012

BUNHEADS by Sophie Flack

In a crowd of beautiful and talented dancers, how can one girl stand out? An irresistible debut novel about life at one of the world's best ballet companies.

On-stage beauty. Backstage drama.
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'm not a huge ballet fan, so when I received this book for review I wasn't sure if it was for me. I mean, it's not that I don't like ballet, it's just that I don't follow it. But as soon as I started reading, I realised that it's not just for ballet fans, it's for anyone who likes a good, honest story.

Hannah Ward is a dancer with the Manhattan Ballet. She's not one of the main ballerinas, she's a corps dancer. In other words, she's one of many girls who dances on stage almost every night, twirling and swirling around each other. It's a lot of hard work and pretty much takes up all of her life, but she decided pretty early on that this was what she wanted. Actually, at the age of fourteen she left her parents and moved to New York City on her own to attend the academy.

She's been doing what she loves ever since, and has never thought about what's outside the building she spends most of her days in rehearsing, dancing, performing... always working on her dancing. But one night, she meets a young, cute musician named Jacob. She's never felt an instant attraction before, so she's fascinated and starts to see him. He makes her realise that there's so much more to life than just dancing. Then there's Matt. He's what they call a balletomanes. He's also rich and has a lot of time on his hands. Some of that time he spends wooing dancers, and Hannah's his latest target.

As she works harder and harder and starts to get small glimpses of achieving the coveted solo parts every ballet dancer dreams about, she realises that it comes with huge sacrifices. It's not just that she no longer has time for Jacob, even though she really wants to see him. It's not just that she pretty much spends all day every day dancing until her body feels like it's beyond tired. It's not even the fact she spends any free time doing exercise. But it's also a deeper physical burden, and not just with weight, but things that she can't control. How is she supposed to stop her body from developing?

For the first time, she starts to lose some of the passion she's always had and can't help wondering what's outside in the city. She wants to do so much more with her life than just dancing, but with ballet it's not possible. It's one or the other...

Bunheads was a terrific book that I enjoyed heaps! I honestly didn't think I would be hooked into Hannah's story as much as I was, but her world of constant dancing, bitchy competition, strong friendships, and never-ending performances really swept me away. I enjoyed every minute of it. I also really liked her friend Bea, and Jacob was really sweet. These two were total contrasts to Zoe and Matt, which weren't so nice.

This is an awesome story, and it was so well written. I loved it. :) 

Bunheads, March 2012, ISBN 9781907411274, Atom

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