Sophie Flack
Poppy, 2011

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. The cover is gorgeous. The story is engrossing. The characters are real, dimensional. And perhaps one of the coolest things? Sophie Flack was a professional ballet dancer, so Bunheads is full of little insider info-nuggets. Love it! ((Sidenote: I like this trend of insiders-turn-authors...it gives a sense of authenticity to the stories.))

Hannah Ward has been dancing for most of her nineteen-year-old life. It's her passion, her ambition, her life. The time and energy she has invested as a member of the Manhattan Ballet corps, always working towards the honor of becoming a soloist, have been satisfactorily rewarded by the thrill and rush of dancing. But then, by chance, she meets a cute pedestrian (non-dancer), named Jacob. And everything starts to change. As she continues to fight for her moment in the spotlight on stage, Hannah finds herself also taking a closer look at herself - at the dancers around her - at the world that exists beyond the theatre. The result is an engrossing story that is one-half dance and one-half coming-of-age. A combination I found particularly enjoyable.

I liked that Hannah was a little older than some YA characters; at 19, she's struggling to find her place in the world - orienting herself through the transition into 'adulthood', while simultaneously navigating the uber-challenging world of professional ballet. I loved all the dance details: the vocabulary, the descriptions, the emotions and frank examinations of what it means to be a ballet dancer (let alone achieve that illusive ballerina status). Hannah and the other dancers all have distinct personalities and voices, and their various approaches to handling their chosen life are intriguing and believable. I think that's one of the big appeals of Bunheads: it's believable. Even though I've never been in the professional dance world, the details and voices in Bunheads creates a world I can see and accept. Not to mention watching Hannah finally realize who she is and where she wants to go next - I can totally relate to her questioning and soul-searching.

A beautiful book that ended both too soon, and at just the right moment.

Book provided by my personal library.

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