“BUNHEADS,” by Sophie Flack, Poppy, Oct. 10, 2011, $17.99 (young adult)
Any young woman who ever dreamed of becoming a ballerina will probably want to read Sophie Flack‘s “Bunheads.” And they should, because even though the book isn’t perfect, the dancing in it is.
Nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward is a dancer in the prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company. That means a lot of classes, rehearsals and performances. It also means complicated relationships with the other dancers around her and pretty much no relationships with people outside the dance world. Hannah doesn’t mind, though, ballet is her life.
Or at least she thinks it is.
Hannah’s life outlook takes a hard left, however, when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob. As she gets to know the new man in her life, Hannah finds herself struggling to make her two worlds connect. Hannah is on the verge of becoming a soloist, but at what cost?
“Bunheads” is definitely a ballet book like “Center Stage” is definitely a ballet movie. Some romance and life choices are thrown in, but the real meat is the dancing.
A former member of the New York City Ballet, author Sophie Flack is more than qualified to tell this tale. Every aspect of a dancer’s life feels authentic and carries an air of excitement. Sophie faces issues of weight loss and jealousy head on, walking that tight line between glamorization and preaching.
Those familiar with dance will love the book all the more for it’s nuances and jargon known only to the ballet world. And Sophie does an incredible job of helping the reader feel as if they are backstage, or onstage, working through the steps themselves. Her imagery is spot on, adding depth where other parts of the book are lacking.
Where “Bunheads” does fall off course is in Hannah’s relationship with Jacob. It’s hard to really put a finger on, but in comparison to the authenticity and vibrant nature of dance elements, Sophie’s life outside the theater comes across as monotone and one-dimensional. Some tighter editing and a few small tweaks would have made for a more convincing plot twist.
The above criticisms aside, “Bunheads” is still worth reading. It’s an enjoyable and exciting start to Sophie’s writing career. And it will be interesting to see what she comes up with next.