18 December 2011

Review: BUNHEADS by Sophie Flack *****

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?
Now THIS is JUST the kind of book I've been waiting for my whole life!

When I was about 10 or so, I read my first Lorna Hill book from the Sadlers Wells series - and BANG, I was hooked! I couldn't get enough of them and they got me dreaming of what it would be like to be a ballet dancer someday ... I soon realized I'm far too short, fat, ugly & clumsy to have the slightest chance of ever becoming one, but that's okay, I quite enjoy watching ballet from afar, hehe. But yes, I am still VERY much fascinated by how graceful and incredibly BEAUTIFUL ballet is and I've always about the lifestyles of ballerinas ... I was hoping to find a novel that would describe all the highs & lows of a professional ballet dancer, and finally all my wishes were granted by Ms Flack, an ex-ballet dancer, who kindly allowed us to take a sneak peek into the life of an up-and-coming ballerina Hannah Ward.

Hannah is a 19-year-old ballet dancer, who's been dancing in the corps de ballet for far too long and is dreaming of getting her first solo part. Goodness knows she entitled to it, as she lives & breathes ballet and has been pushing herself harder than ever. But when she gets a glimpse of the outside, normal lives, she finds herself conflicted ... Is she really willing to give up her whole life for dancing?

That's the main plot in a nutshell, but there really is SO much more to it, especially if you're an admirer of ballet like myself. What I loved the most about this novel is that it's one hundred per cent focused on ballet and what it takes to make it in the ballet world, how much effort and dedication the dancer have to show to be noticed among other talented girls. It realy is incredible how these girls push themselves and their bodies to the very limit for the art.

You best believe I was gobbing it up like a yummy piece of cake. :p

No, I wasn't surprised to learn that the life of a professional ballet dancer isn't always glamurous, but mostly blood, sweat and tears. Although it's not always a pretty world and it's highly competitive, I was still entranced by it. I didn't understand the ballet speak much, but that didn't bother me one little bit, if anything it made me happier to be bombarded with the terms like they were something completely normal. :)

The story itself isn't much - it's just tracks the days in the life of a young pro baller dancer, but I still loved it! Furthermore, I thought this book was really well written and believable. And although a part of me wanted to scold Hannah for being SO damn hard on herself, I also grew to understand her and I could even relate to her, albeit on a very distant level. But she was real to me and so was the world she was describing. Simply AMAZING.

I really truly enjoyed getting a glimpse of Hannah's professional (and personal, whatever little there was of it) life and getting behind the scenes of a legendary ballet company. I felt like I was there myself and reading this book was just like watching a ballet performance - it made me sigh happy sighs and it just fed my 'soul'. I've been waiting for a book like this for SO long and I am just happy that I finally get to read it! :D So thank you, Ms Flack, for sharing this story with us and PLEASE turn this into a series somehow? :)

All in all, if you can't tell, I absolutely adored this book and I strongly recommend it to anyone who's even remotely fascinated by ballet or curious about what goes behind the scenes!

overall rating:
plot: 5/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 5/5

Here's a quite interview with the author:

I mean, just LOOK at this! Isn't it GLORIOUS? Oh-so-BEAUTIFUL? *le sigh* I just can't explain how much this amazes me, but just ... WOW!