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on October 6, 2011
This book is very similar to Girl in Motion: A Novel by Miriam Wenger-Landis, which was published over a year before Bunheads in 2010.
The protagonist in Bunheads, Hannah, is a few years older than Anna in Girl in Motion and already in the company. The story presents the same type of situations, characters, and emotions. The dance sequences and insider knowledge are similar. Both books do a good job showing the inside world of ballet and they're both entertaining reads. I love that there's more ballet fiction out these days.
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on October 13, 2011
Bunheads offers an interesting look into the backstage world of ballet. However, the plot-line is somewhat thin and unrealistic, and much of the dialogue feels contrived.
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on October 2, 2011
It was really entertaining and inspiring. Because of this book I decided that I'm going to start taking dance lessons. I don't know what the other review is talking about, the plot is very original. You get hooked right after the first chapter and I felt like I just couldn't put it down.
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on November 10, 2013
This is a very good book. It took me a week to finish it. It was a very good book involving a ballet dancer. I loved the book because I am a ballet dancer inspiring to be a dancer with the Boston ballet. The ending is very disappointing. Now gets a contract and she quits her company. Hannah ends up going to college and teaching ballet. I really thought she would get a promotion. Not for she seems stuck up.
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VINE VOICEon July 22, 2017
This book has been on my TBR pile for some time. This was an okay read, the story is pretty typical YA contemporary fiction and the writing is okay but could have flowed better.

This was a quick read about a girl named Hannah who dances at the Met as a ballet dancer. It was an interesting look into the grueling and rigorous career of a ballet dancer.

Even though Hannah is older (19) this is very much a coming of age story and is YA appropriate. When Hannah meets a young musician named Jacob she starts to question her dedication to ballet and begins to wonder what other things she is missing by being trapped in rehearsals and productions all day and night.

It is an interesting look at how total dedication to be great at one thing can completely strip away everything else in your life. While this does provide some food for thought I thought the book was a bit bland and predictable.

The writing is okay but not great. It doesn't flow as well as it could and I had some trouble picturing the settings. The characters are engaging if somewhat stereotypical.

Overall it was an okay read and an interesting look into the world of dance. However, it's pretty predictable and was a bit boring at points.
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on August 2, 2015
Having been interested in ballet for a long time (but never actually dancing) I was intrigued by this book. But almost immediately I was disappointed. While I have no doubt that it is an accurate look at the world of professional ballet, it also assumes the reader already knows a lot about the world. The performances/rehearsals/class schedule is very confusing. They perform 10 ballets a day...how long is a 'ballet'? How many performances are there? I found myself really wanting to know more about the dance world but I just kept getting blasé over-views of the days.

The characters were interesting and the dynamic between Hannah and Zoe was interesting. But again there could have been more to it. Zoe seemed a pretty competitive/manipulative person...and while I sorta understood why the two were 'friends' I wanted more on their past.

But the main issue with this book is that there's really no plot. And it seems to suggest that Ballet isn't worth all the hard work if you can't get the solos you want. Hannah goes back and forth with her commitment to dancing but when her career doesn't take off at the speed she wants, then it's 'not worth it'. I think this story is supposed to be inspiring...live your own dreams and all that...but it comes off more like Hannah is just giving up.

Not worth it for me...but maybe if you're a dancer you'd get more out of it.
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on October 7, 2011
19 year-old Hannah Ward has given up most of her childhood in pursuit of her dreams... a spot in the corps de ballet of the famous Manhattan Ballet Company. As a very worldly teenager, she's already been living in Manhattan for several years, and is slowly but surely attempting to work her way to the top of the heap in her clique-ish, exclusive world.

When I first heard about this book, I thought for certain it would be some kind of exploration of body issues, and maybe an anorexia book with touches of evil competitiveness a lá Black Swan. That is the stereotype of the hard-driving, ambitious, slightly-crazy ballerina, right? I was pleased that the book dispels those ideas immediately. Hannah's not anorexic - she's always been naturally slim. It's just her natural body type. She eats healthy, but "cheats" every now and then with a big bowl of pasta or (thanks to lax city bartenders) the occasional glass of wine. She doesn't hate her fellow dancers - they are her best friends and constant companions. She doesn't even consider herself a true "ballerina." She's a ballet dancer, but she's not a star. For her, it's a living.

Flack's own experience as a dancer lends lots of realistic details to the book. Hannah and her friends are heartily sick of The Nutcracker, a perennial audience favorite which is physically challenging yet artistically boring. They are tired of having to dance through filthy re-used plastic snow every night, which then wends it's way into everything: hair, clothes, even the utensil drawer at home ends up with stray bits of dirty white fluff.

Another detail I didn't expect, but found completely believable was the staff of professional masseuses and sports doctors on hand to treat the ballet dancers - massaging them into shape, even offering an ultrasound machine in the basement, where dancers are invited to wand their tired bones back into fighting form again.

When Hannah meets Jacob, a gorgeous college-student musician, they are both instantly equally smitten. Hannah soon realizes just how all-encompassing her schedule really is as she struggles to make time for him. I loved how from her perspective, she sees Jacob, "all the time" - bending over backwards to call in favors and skipping classes in order to get in a simple date. From Jacob's perspective, he almost never sees Hannah. He likes her a lot... and he'll wait patiently for her, but even so, a man has his limits. In fact, Hannah is only seeing Jacob every couple of months - to her, with a jam-packed routine where every moment is either devoted to rehearsals, auditions, performances or classes, it really does seem like time flies. It would be so much easier to continue to ensconce herself in the world of the "bunheads" - the serious ballet dancers, and date the charming son of one of the ballet company's most generous benefactors.

As Hannah puts on a little weight, she's mortified to have to wear a bra for the first time. A few critical comments from her dance director leave her feeling shaky and unsure of herself. Again, I liked how this is a brief crisis of conscience, rather than an all-encompassing quest for her. I thought Hannah's main struggle was in how her ballet colleagues - who have been her entire universe - will most certainly judge her if she chooses to dial back on what is already a short-lived career for "some boy." Ultimately, Hannah has to do what feels right for her, and I liked being inside her head as she thoughtfully considers her options.

Romantic, funny and totally absorbing, I loved this look into the life of a dancer who struggles with "work/life balance," on a grand scale. I highly recommend this book.
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on August 1, 2016
Actual rating - 2.5

Normally, I eat up stories featuring dancers because it's such a different world than anything I'm used to. They are often filled with drama, and I'll be honest with you, I'm a sucker for drama. While I enjoyed the writing style of Sophie Flack, her story didn't quite rise to the occasion. The events were very repetitive, practically the same thing happening over and over again throughout the book. Conversations between the characters became monotonous, and I found myself just wanting everything to come to an end. There were several great opportunities for the story to take off with Hannah and her group of friends, but instead I only found the same lackluster prose.

I will tell you, there is a love triangle, and it is hit your head against the table awful. Neither of the boys were that great, each one coming off creepy and stalkerish. The love triangle really didn't even add that much to the story, and probably could have (and should have) been removed without anybody knowing the difference.

This is a book that sat on my shelf for a while before I finally picked it up, so I'm glad that I finally read it. Reading it wasn't really a waste of time, but there are definitely better novels out there
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on July 12, 2015
I wanted to like this book because I enjoy reading novels about ballet dancers and the world of ballet. But even considering that its teen fiction, the book was still not good. There was no plot and the characters were one-dimensional and flat. The female characters are all ballet dancers from apparently privileged backgrounds who talk about nothing except dieting, celebrities, clothes and boys. There is a lot of shallow dialogue amongst all the dancers and they all seem alike in personality. They go to parties and nightclubs where nothing happens of any significance. I kept wondering when the real action would start, it never did. The main character is Hannah, but we learn very little about what drives her into ballet or what her hopes, fears or dreams are. She is a dancer. Dancing is hard work. She diets a lot and takes yoga classes. She buys designer clothing and goes on dates. Nothing unusual about her life. There is some cute stuff in the book but overall, its a story that doesn't go anywhere.
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on March 1, 2015
4.5 stars

I've heard mixed reviews of this young adult novel, but because I was a dancer growing up I was really interested in reading a book featuring a ballerina. I definitely picked up Bunheads at the perfect time – I found it a quick and comforting read.

Bunheads tells the story of Hannah Ward, a nineteen-year-old in the Manhattan Ballet Company's corps de ballet. The book is written in Hannah's first-person perspective, and is separated into the three seasons the ballet performs: fall, winter, and spring. Readers follow Hannah as she faces a multitude of struggles in her young life. Hannah wants more than anything to be promoted to a soloist in the company, but receiving that position requires a strict diet and workout schedule, and forces her to compete against her closet friends. At the same time, Hannah wants desperately to be a normal teenager, but ballet dancers in the Manhattan Ballet Company rarely leave the confines of the theatre.

I really enjoyed Hannah's story, and connected with her in many ways. Even though I am not a professional dancer, I understand how it feels to move to New York City and try to follow your dreams when you are young and alone. Just like Hannah, I struggle with balancing my career with my personal life, and I really admired how Hannah handled her situation.

Bunheads does feature a love triangle, but I think it worked really well with this story. It wasn't overdone, and it wasn't dramatic. Instead, it was quite realistic, and the conflict brought an interesting twist to the story. I only mention the love triangle in my review because I know that is a key buzzword for some readers when deciding whether or not to pick up a book.

The only criticisms I have with Bunheads are very small indeed. First, Flack uses a multitude of ballet terms throughout the novel. Because I took ballet for several years, I had no problem pronouncing or understanding the different dance positions and movements. However, readers with no dance background will probably find these terms frustrating, so it would be very helpful to include a glossary in the back of the book with the proper pronunciations, translation from French to English, and a short description of what the step is.

Furthermore, I found the pacing in Bunheads to be a little confusing at times. Even though the story was separated by season, I found that time moved much quicker that I would have expected. For instance, if a scene takes place in the book, the next scene could be either the next day, or the next week, or even a few weeks down the road. The timing between chapters was not consistent, and I would have liked more markers so I could follow where I was. However, this is really nitpicking, and it really did not detract much from the story at all.

Overall, I really loved Bunheads and highly recommend it to anyone who was a dancer or who is interesting in dancing. The author is a retired ballerina herself, so I loved the authenticity in the story. I learned so much about what it takes to be a professional dancer, but at the same time I connected to this book on a personal level. I'm really impressed with Flack's ability to make Hannah's story my story even though we lead very different lives. I will definitely be rereading Bunheads at some point in the future, and I anxiously await Flack's next book, whatever it may be!
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