Customer Reviews: Bunheads
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on October 23, 2011
I did a theatre summer camp as a kid. In the morning, we'd have acting lessons, In the afternoon, we'd have dance lessons. And they WERE hard dance lessons then. And no fun So reading Bunheads just left me in total AWE of how hard ballet dancers really work and how freaking dedicated they are.

First off - I absolutely loved how the story started. "Don't call me a ballerina." It's a brilliant first line. It intrigued me and made wonder..."well, isn't this story about ballerines? What's your deal, Hannah?" and then she explains. And tells me her story. And I love her. I loved her character, especially because she's indecisive and unsure.

Okay, Bunheads isn't exactly action packed. I felt like, rather than a typical story (with the rise, climax, fall, etc.) Bunheads goes a bit more...subtle and slowly. It's more of a window into a girl's life - a rather normal life, with the exception of her spending every waking moment doing ballet things. Interesting ballet things and also boy kissing.

And it was really relatable. Sure, I don't have to decide between a life and ballet, but I've had to decide between two really important things before, and I have a lot of issues with not enough time, just like Hannah.

I know this wasn't a very cohesive review, so let me say flat out - I enjoyed Bunheads immensely. I thought it was a wonderful contemporary with interesting characters in an interesting setting. I don't recommend it to anyone looking for a lot of action, but I do recommend it for anyone interested in a thoughtful contemp. Plus, boys and kissing.
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on August 11, 2015
Bunheads is a fun quick read that allows the reader to see what life could be like in the professional world of ballet. The world is so completely made, it's obvious that author, Sophie Flack, lived it. The reader is whisked away to the Manhattan Ballet Company, and enthralled over Hannah's life. Hannah Ward, has only one desire, to be a soloist for a dance. She lives and breathes ballet, giving up everything else, including time with her family.

Then she meets Jacob, a musician who simply enjoys living. He opens her eyes to the other possibilities of life, one that isn't consumed with dance all day. Hannah has to decide what she wants from her life as she knows that if she wants to be a perfect ballet dancer she will have to focus only on dance... but her heart isn't sure that is what she wants any more.

This is a fun read for those who are enthralled by ballet and the perfection of its dancers.
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on September 17, 2014

[More of my reviews are available on my blog, Geeky Reading, to which there's a link on my profile.]

I was surprised by this book. At first, it sounded good, and then I thought it might be just okay. But while reading it, I found that I rather enjoyed it.

Hannah Ward, nineteen, is a dancer. She transferred to an arts school, moved out on her own, focused on dance, and never looked back. But then she meets Jacob, and realizes that there’s stuff outside of dance, outside the studio, and that she might actually like exploring the world, including finishing that book she started a year ago and hasn’t had the time for. All she’s ever known is dance, though, dedicating to dance, and she doesn’t know if she could do anything else.

Hannah’s struggle is frustrating, I will say that. It’s subtle, too. But it gets to be a little much at points. She likes dance. She wants to dance. She’s always danced. But if she sticks to dancing, that’s all she’ll ever do. She won’t have time for reading or boys or food or anything outside the studio. She pretty much ignores that she wants anything else for a very long time, though. It’s done very subtly, and honestly I wasn’t even sure that she wanted anything but dance for a long while into the book.

Jacob is very sweet, though. And I felt bad for him for quite a while. He likes Hannah, they get along really well, have similar interests, and have good chemistry. But she’s so busy with dance that she has little-to-no time for him. He stuck around, though, thank god.

Their chemistry was very believable for me. I saw why they liked each other, and was rooting for them the whole time. Which is why Hannah’s tunnel vision on dance was so frustrating at times.

The writing wasn’t overly pretty, a little straightforward, but that made the dance scenes easy to read, of which there were a lot. Dance is everywhere in this book, chapter upon chapter focused on it. But they were really easy to read, simple and not boring or over-done. I liked that.

The way it was handled was nice, too. It wasn’t overly dramatized; it seemed realistic, at least from the nonexistent experience I have with dance. It was realistic and subtle.

The ending was definitely my favorite part of the book. The way everything worked out for Hannah was just perfect, exactly what she needed. It was perfect for her, and that made me happy. That in itself bumped the rating up.

I really liked this book. The writing was good, the characters were great, and the ending was fantastic. It definitely made me want to pick up another dance book, and if Flack releases something else, probably that, too.
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on November 2, 2011
was surprised how much I liked this novel. The main character certainly wasn't the nicest, smartest, or best overall I have read, but that was part of what made her so likable. I really enjoyed following Hannah's point of view and getting glimpses into her thought processes throughout the novel. She is determined, extremely hardworking, and manages to persevere through the pain and disappointment that comes with being a dancer.

The story starts with all of the ballet dancers working hard to get a promotion-the coveted soloist positions that could make them "real ballerinas." The reader will be introduced to several dynamic secondary characters. They are all hardworking, many are very obsessed with weight. I think the author did a wonderful job of capturing the "typical ballet dancer" mentality.

Jacob, Hannah's potential love interest, added an extra bonus to the book. He provided Hannah a view into normal, everyday life. That small snippet will come back to haunt Hannah, increasing her desire for other things-beyond dancing. Overall, the author was a great writer, there were no awkward scenes and the dancers' emotions came across as genuine. This book is recommended to young adult/teen readers.

*Complimentary copy received for this review, does not affect my opinion in any way*
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on October 17, 2011
I loved this book! As a dancer in high school, I totally related to this book. Everything about the dancing world is right to the T, and I loved the characters.

What I liked most about this book, is the great plot line. Filled with aspiring dancers yearning for the spot light, to get to that place it takes really hard work. I loved all the dancers in the book, the competitions and the drama. The feeling of the rush of adrenaline while on stage filled my veins as I read this book. I haven't danced for years, but to fill the dance, the music, and the to see the audience watching gave me the feeling I haven't felt in years.

The characters in this book were great.I loved the development of them and the way they saw things. A whole new perspective is brought to the readers eyes and it held them there. The characters make some sacrifices, some good and others bad. The love interest captivated me. I loved how he made it easy for Hannah to be herself. What caught me about him, was her never ending of giving up.

Bunheads is a perfect book for those who want a whole other experience. A dance life is something different and a great experience. I loved my dance life in high school. It was something that steadied me and LOVED to do. You should most definitely read Bunheads. With an amazing view of a dance, you too will be dancing!
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Bunheads takes us into the life of Ms. Hannah Ward, a corp dancer for the Manhattan Ballet. We follow her through her ups and downs, the "complicated backstage relationships" she maintains, and her on-going struggle between having a "real life" and being a ballet dancer.

I don't think I can say enough good things about this book. It was definitely one of my favorite reads this year. Why, do you ask? Well, let me tell you.

The realness of this novel.
This wasn't some fairytale-land where Hannah was magically gifted with dance and everything came naturally to her. No! She works her tail off and is often to the point of exhaustion. I loved that the book really painted her in this hardworking light. It made me like her, but moreso than that, it made me RESPECT her (and her work ethic).

Also, the expertise of Ms. Flack's ballet terminology and insight was just..amazing. I felt like no amount of research could have brought home that true feeling of what it's like to stand behind the curtain before a performance. Or what it feels like to have this insane amount of pressure placed on you. For me, it was just the little things that Hannah talked about that gave me this insider perspective that really made the book special.

It kept me guessing until the end.
Would Hannah get a solo? Get promoted to Principal? How were her performances going to turn out? Would she dance or not dance? Matt or Jacob? I mean, I had no idea what was going to happen and it was kind of fun to guess and wonder and ask myself, if it were ME, what would I do?? Hannah was torn, as was I. And that never happens to me. I always want the character to do THIS or THAT. I'm never like.."Oh..I just don't know..."

And I think most of all, what I loved about this book was the message that I got from it. And that was, if you love something, then do it. But once you stop loving something, why continue with it? You've got to enjoy life!

This was a spectacular debut novel and if you like YA Contemporary, I can guarantee you'll enjoy this. :)
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on January 31, 2012
Witty and fresh, Sophie Flack shows literary promise in her debut novel, "Bunheads." "Bunheads" deals with the struggles of nineteen year old Hannah Ward, a professional ballet dancer with the fictional ballet company, the Manhattan Ballet. She's at the lowest rank, the corps, and like any dancer, dreams of making it up to the top - or at the very least, promoted to soloist. She has 3 best friends - Beatrice Hall (Bea), Daisy, and Zoe Mortimer. Bea is kindhearted and gentle, Daisy naive and impulsive, and Zoe competitive and volatile. Zoe and Hannah compete with each other for the coveted soloist spot offered by Otto, their company's artistic director, who encourages the rivalry between the two. When she meets a handsome musician named Jacob Cohen, she starts to question whether she wants to even be promoted and continue on with the elite world of professional ballet. Flack makes sure that the novel is as accurate as possible, being a former professional dancer in the corps of a prestigious ballet company herself, although those without some sort of background knowledge in ballet will not know the terms she mentions, such as "glissade," "tombe," "pas de chat," "penchee promenade," etc.

This book is any aspiring or former ballet dancer's perfect choice in reading material. Being an aspiring ballet dancer myself, I found it fresh and informative.

For those who want to know, there is some underage drinking in here, as well as a mild, non descriptive sex scene, and a few swear words thrown here and there.
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on January 15, 2013
This is one of my favorite books. It helped me personally when I was going through a huge debate in my head over whether or not to change careers. I don't want to give any spoilers. Basically, its a great book and the message is helpful. I highly recommend.
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on January 26, 2016
This is an enjoyable read. I couldn't stop once I started! I have always admired the discipline in ballet and being a singer more than a dancer, I felt like I was seeing a true backstage view thru this story. This is exactly what I hoped for in a ballet story after being such a "Center Stage," movie fan among others. If you enjoy ballet, you will enjoy reading this book.
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on January 16, 2013
Review originally posted to Words at Home blog January 15, 2013: [...]
Bunheads is a beautifully written story about the grace, determination and sacrifice that go hand in hand with being a part of the professional ballet world. Sophia Flack not only captures the glamour and prestige that comes from performing in a professional ballet but also the struggle and turmoil the come from dedicating one's life so fully to the pursuit. Flack's time spent training as a professional dancer gave Hannah's voice and authenticity that for many would be difficult to achieve. Bunheads is both powerfully emotional and full of lighthearted fun, it is a debut novel that is guaranteed to make you a fan begging for another novel by this author.

Having danced my entire childhood I knew that I would easily fall in love with the subject matter of Bunheads, but what I didn't expect was to fall in love so deeply with the main character Hannah and become so emotionally involved in her struggles and triumphs with the Manhattan Ballet Company. This is not a novel that is about any one major event, or centered on a deep romance. It is rather about the daily struggles, both physical and emotional, that wear on Hannah. The pressure to perform, constant need to compare yourself to co-workers (ie. Other company members), the completely isolation from the outside world, not to mention the physical stress caused by such a rigid schedule are the main themes in Bunheads. I found the way that Flack was able to get the reader inside Hannah's head to be incredible and rarely do I feel so emotionally connected to a character as I did with Hannah because every bit of self-doubt, envy, hurt, or feeling of self-consciousness was there for the reader to experience.

I completely lost myself in this novel and finished it over two very short sittings. I initially thought that my connection to this novel was solely from my own personal connection to dance, but as I continued to read it became blaringly obvious to me that this novel was about so much more than the dance itself. More than anything it follows Hannah's conflicted emotional journey as she discovers what she is willing to give up in life to pursue her career, and what experiences are simply not worth missing. It is a story of growing up and gaining perspective and it is executed brilliantly.
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