Friday, May 4, 2012
Book Review: Bunheads
Author: Sophie Flack
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: 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?
Review: I've been a dancer for almost eight years. I haven't done lyrical (aka "ballet") but other than that I know how crazy it gets at rehearsals and recitals. At least, I thought I knew... Bunheads gave me a whole new perspective on the whole dancing world.
Although I go to a public school instead of a ballet company, I can relate to Hannah's love for dance. Every time Hannah described being on stage in one of her costumes and doing all of the choregraphy she's been practicing for weeks, reminds me of when I go to dance class in the summer and do recitals. Recitals, I think, makes everything you worked for pay off. It is for Hannah too, but having a solo on an advanced ballet could not only mean being happy on stage but maybe even a promotion in your future.
I guess I didn't know how difficult living at a dance company could be. The way Hannah sees her friends being told to lose weight (even when they are already as thin as a stick) and diet (even though they barely eat anything the way it is) surprised me. The sad thing is, it's probably true. In nearly every book, there's some sort of competition. In Bunheads, it's getting promoted or a solo. I never understood why Hannah continued to be Zoe's friend through the whole book.
Zoe was a frustrating character who seemed to get everything she wanted when she wanted it. If she didn't, she would stop at nothing to get it a different way. Hannah was frustrating sometimes too. I don't know if what happens to Hannah (dance all the time and never get time off) happens to people in real dance companies, but I sure hope not. Everyone needs a break and Hannah didn't accept that. She wanted to get a solo or a promotion before Zoe did. While she did trained, she missed out on other things she could've done (with Jacob for example).
In the end, I like how Sophie Flack ended the novel. It seemed like everyone was happy and that Hannah finally got her life figured out (and could start to eat whatever she wanted).