A Novel

Flack, Sophie

Book - 2011
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Hannah Ward, nineteen, revels in the competition, intense rehearsals, and dazzling performances that come with being a member of Manhattan Ballet Company's corps de ballet, but after meeting handsome musician Jacob she begins to realize there could be more to her life.

Publisher: New York : Poppy, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780316126533
Branch Call Number: y FLACK 2011
Characteristics: 294 p. ;,22 cm
Alternate Title: Bun heads


From Library Staff

Hannah Ward, nineteen, revels in the competition, intense rehearsals, and dazzling performances that come with being a member of Manhattan Ballet Company's corps de ballet, but after meeting handsome musician Jacob she begins to realize there could be more to her life.

From the critics

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Feb 24, 2015

I've been looking for a novel that accurately portrayed the lives of professional ballet dancers for a long time, and I finally found one. Bunheads by Sophie Flack tells the story of nineteen year old Hannah Ward, a dancer in the Corps of the fictional Manhattan Ballet Company. She has devoted her life to ballet and has little time for much else. But when she meets Jacob, a musician, her life gets turned upside down as she falls in love. For the first time, Hannah questions her life as a dancer, and decides if she wants to stay in the company, or leave and take a different path than the one she had always envisioned. As a dancer, I found this book relatable. Like Hannah, I have the same aches and pains and struggle finding a balance between ballet and everything else sometimes. We are also around the same age, so we have a lot of the same wants and desires in life. Flack, a former dancer in the New York City Ballet herself, captures the essences of the dance world. From the studio to backstage, she covers it all with great insight and accuracy. The plot of the novel was easy to follow and I found it hard to put it down. I would recommend Bunheads to any teenager, especially one who does ballet. Overall, Bunheads is one of my favourite novels that I look forward to reading again.

May 27, 2014

Bunheads is, in my humble opinion, an extreme treasure in the literary world of ballet and dance. As an avid fan of the art, I have read countless books that talk about ballet. However, in my experience, none of those books have been able to capture the spirit of the dance as accurately as Bunheads. This might be because the author, Sophie Flack, was an ex-ballet dancer herself, having danced in the New York City Ballet (one of the world’s most prestigious companies) for years. Bunheads follows the story of Hannah Ward, a nineteen year old corps de ballet dancer in the Manhattan Ballet Company, who is eager to rise in the rankings and take on bigger roles and become a star. The corps de ballet refers to the lowest ranking in the company. The book manages to take the foreign ballet language and translate it accordingly, so that both dancers and non-dancers can enjoy the book with formidable success. My favorite part about the book was how Flack managed to tell the real story behind ballet. She didn’t make it all about the eating disorders that may arise, or the pressure put on dancers. However, at the same time, she avoided romanticizing and glamorizing what is arguably one of the most challenging professions out there. I found that many other books that tackled ballet made it look almost too depressing, to the point where the dancers themselves even claimed they hated dancing. Hannah Ward, however, is a strong character. She loves dancing, and gets through her days with perseverance and struggle, which she believes will pay off in the end. Hannah is an extremely relatable character. Like most people her age, she doesn’t know how to feel or where to go, and feels an immense pressure to be perfect. Despite her uncertainty, she’s a hard worker and a fiery, passionate young women with an adventurous spirit and a romantic heart. The main struggle in the book is Hannah’s newfound appreciation for ‘non-ballet’ life. After meeting a young man named Jacob, who strives to show Hannah a side of life that isn’t all about hard work and day-to-day pressure, Hannah finds that she enjoys having fun, and wants to see the world. She loves to dance, and has committed over a decade of her life to the art. It is a part of her. But this spirit of hers causes a great deal of confusion and uncertainty, which the readers are easily able to latch on to and follow along with. The supporting characters, as well, are wonderful. Jacob isn’t just Hannah’s romantic interest. He’s a fascinating young man, with his own life and personality, and he doesn’t take crap from anyone. Hannah’s friends in the corps all come with their own stories and vibrant personalities that show in their dialogue and in the pages, which they help light up and come to life. They range from being snobby to naïve to disciplined to enigmatic, and they’re all as interesting as Hannah and Jacob themselves. I’d recommend Bunheads to anyone that has a love of philosophy and enjoys a book that can make them think. The novel provides a great deal of brain food, and allows the reader to both enjoy themselves and disappear into their own little world, as well as being able to paste themselves into Hannah’s world and enjoy her adventures. The book will allow lost souls to find a new road home, and encourage who are certain they have found their path to take a second glance.

Oct 14, 2013
  • callmeprincess rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

"Bunheads" a YA debut novel by Sophie Flack brings us into the competitive and dazzling world of ballet, a story about dancing in its most realistic, breathtaking form. As a complete outsider to ballet, I was intrigued to step into the Pointe shoes of ballerinas knowing it will be dreamy, gentle, but nothing too extreme. I was right, but these qualities went beyond my expectations. While it was slow-paced, it grabs your attention and spins you around gracefully, while it wasn't action-packed and high tension of romance, it was meaningful and captivatingly beautiful for every word there was no lie. A story about a girl finding her place in this world, who she is, and who she wants to be. Strongly recommended for dancers and the so-called "pedestrians" like me because every girl had once had a dream of dancing under that bright, bright light...
"My name is Hannah Ward. Don't call me a ballerina." Hannah's whole life had been about ballet even since she was little, she moved to New York just so she could focus on dancing, no SAT preparations, no movie marathons with friends, no prom, just intense rehearsals and grueling practices. Now nineteen years old and an official member in the corps de ballets of the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, Hannah wonders if all of this is really worth missing out life outside the walls of the dance studio, is dancing so important that she had to spent every waking seconds of her life restricted to size zero and training until you drop. Gliding through frustrating rehearsals and messy backstage relationships, with the hope of seeing your name appearing beside the lead soloist part instead of being the background dancer again, Hannah must decide whether or not she will sacrifice what she love for the freedom she crave. And to make things more complicated, she met a handsome young musician who taught her there's more to living than just memorizing the dance steps for the "Nutcracker". She soon learns that sometime following your dream doesn't mean to abandon everything else behind, as one of her teacher once told her ,"The life span of a dancer can be as short as a fruit fly’s."
Could this book be more exciting and nerve wrecking? Yes. But will it deliver the message intended then? Probably not. This isn't an over dramatized story of star-cross lovers or one of your friends is a murderer, it's ballet told in honest words through sweat and endless practice, not with tutus but tights that has patches sewed on. No one's life is a fairytale, not even a beautiful ballerinas, all the glamour just shadows the late-night rehearsals dancing the same routine over and over again, all the fancy costumes just make us forget the pain a person had to go through to reach that point. I found myself totally immersed in Hannah's world, and her struggle not because it's that between "life-and-death", but because it was real. The novel is called "Bunheads", so first of all what is a bunhead? She is someone who's head is into ballet and absolutely nothing else, who always desires to be a star soloist, but not quite one yet because that would be a ballerina. The story follows a bunhead through what it's like to be her, to be that dedicated yet have no recognition or praises that was life-changing, nothing was just handed to her, she'd have to work for it. So elegant and poised, so fragile yet strong, you can't not have respect for dancers after reading this.

Jul 24, 2013
  • MADKC4Ever rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book was so, so great. Any dancer would just love this book, and even if you aren't a dancer, you get to see inside the life of one. As a dancer myself, I loved hearing about the struggle of finding a balance between your passion, and a life outside of it. And what makes it even more interesting is it that the story is based on the author's life. It's a fun story to read, and you can't put it down until the last page. Pick this one up, it's an awesome summer read, or anytime read!

Apr 17, 2013
  • mperets rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

i really enjoyed this book!! it had a good balance of ballet and her semi-normal life. in a way, she's almost like any other teen with friend trouble, boy trouble, trying to find herself a comfortable place in her life, and her life as a dancer with competition, perseverance, and how friends are always on your side on top of all that! this book is really beautiful!

Dec 17, 2012
  • rebecca349 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Story of a struggling Corps Ballet Dancer who must decide if she wants the lifestyle of a ballerina or a "pedestrian". The author is a former dancer herself and gives great insight to the ballet world. I truly enjoyed this book and getting to know the characters.

Dec 17, 2012
  • Andreinac13 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I Love this book. It gives you an insight look at the ballet world, its ups and downs. It's a well-written book.

Dec 16, 2012
  • CAROWOZFAN rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Really good. It explains that ballet is not just tutus!!!!

Nov 06, 2012
  • La_Danseuse rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Pretty good, 3.5 stars. Not a book that I couldn't put down, but I wanted to see what happened to the character in the end. Hannah wasn't the most relatable character though, I was a bit torn whether or not to like her. One minute she seemed likable, the next minute she didn't seem to care about anything. Accurately portrays the ballet world, but I liked Eva Ibbotson's "A Company of Swans", as a ballet book better.

Oct 01, 2012
  • hgeng63 rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

The author can't really tell a story, leaving you w. only the crumbs of details about the ballet world. Read Toni Bentley's Winter Season if you really want to know about NY City Ballet.

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Jan 24, 2014
  • selenium_peafowl_0 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

selenium_peafowl_0 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 24, 2013
  • MADKC4Ever rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

MADKC4Ever thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Feb 07, 2013
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violet_fire_55340 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Dec 11, 2012
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fearlessforever thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Nov 06, 2012
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Aug 17, 2012
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Red_Rabbit_102 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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Dec 11, 2012
  • fearlessforever rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Coarse Language: Very mild and infrequently used


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Jul 24, 2013
  • MADKC4Ever rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Bea looks at me, her blue eyes affectionate and warm. "But what do you think happens after you get promoted, Hannah?" She asks softly. "You have even less of a life than before. It only gets harder." She stands to face me and holds my gaze. "The Rubies solo is huge. And you probably are on your way to being promoted. But you have to make up your mind. You can either have a life, or you can dance. But you can't have it both ways."


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