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?
BUNHEADS will be released October 10th from Poppy, an imprint of Little Brown. A big thanks to Little Brown for the ARC!
My first thoughts when I heard about this book was YES YES YES! Finally, a book about dancers! I'm going into my thirteenth year of dance, and never once have I come across a book that portrays dancing so well. I'm not as hardcore as the girls in these books, I don't do ballet. But the whole environment, was just so relatable. The competitiveness, the ups and downs, your friends being your competition. She does an excellent job showing what girls are willing to risk for dance, as well as the physical toll it takes to be a dancer. So when I read that Sophie was part of the New York City Ballet from 2000-2009, I was like ah-ha! That's how she knows her stuff so well.
Sophie's writing shows promise for a debut. The writing style isn't brilliant, and didn't pack as much of a punch as I would've liked, but nevertheless it was still good. Sometimes I just wished for a bit more depth. Hannah was a great main character. Being a dancer, I really understood her as I was reading this. Well, to a point. Then she got so self-obsessed and too busy for anyone else that I wanted to be like "Come on! Just go out with him!" But that is the life of a dancer, and Flack really captures the whole loneliness without being alone part well.
I wish there was more to the romance. I loved Jacob, but he wasn't there enough! And Hannah kept getting close to him and then pushing him away because of her career. That boy has the patience of a saint, I swear! But they did have some cute moments, despite the dialogue getting semi-awkward at points. But there was never any real reasoning to why Hannah kept going back to Jacob after pushing him away, never mind why he cared so much and was so patient when he barely knew her at first. It just kind of happened.
There are so. many. minor characters. Too many, in my opinion. I mean, I know a dance company is huge, but sometimes I felt like roles were unnecessary. Like there's this girl Adriana, who's mentioned within the first few pages, so I figured that she'd have a significant role in the book, but she was barely there. And once or twice someone would come back towards the end from the beginning, and I would get confused and momentarily forget who they are. And I didn't really understand Matt's role in all of this. Adding in that half-love triangle in this was unnecessary, in my opinion. And I never felt like I really got to know Bea or Daisy, Hannah's best friends. The most developed character was Zoe. I REALLY liked what Sophie did with her characterization, and with her and Hannah's relationship. She's that friend that you're always competing against, the one you're always comparing yourself to. And I totally got that! There are definitely some Zoe's in my life.
My favorite scenes in this book were when Hannah was dancing. Those were perfect! The dance language, Hannah's emotions and seeing her just let loose and dance was so well done. The writing here was great, I felt like if I closed my eyes it could've been me dancing in Hannah's place. Great, great stuff!
Overall, BUNHEADS was decent. It didn't wow me, but being a dancer gave me an appreciation for this book. I think it could've been brilliant with better characterization of the minor characters and deeper prose. Nevertheless, it's a fun, quick read, and if you're a dancer or if you want to learn more about dancing, it's definitely worth a read.
More of a 3.5 stars, but I'll round up :)