Book - 2011
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As a dancer with the Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward is living her childhood dream. She gets to be up on stage in front of adoring crowds every night. And while she might not be a prima ballerina yet, she's moving up the ranks and surely if she works hard enough she can make it happen.

But devoting her whole life to ballet leaves very little time for anything else: friends, family, school have all fallen by the wayside. Hannah doesn't mind, until a chance encounter in a restaurant brings Jacob into her life. He's cute, he plays guitar and he's offering a whole future that Hannah never considered. And now she must choose between her lifelong dream or what could be the love of her life. . .

Publisher: 2011. Atom,
ISBN: 9781907411274
Branch Call Number: YF FLAC FLAC
Characteristics: 294 p. ; 20 cm


From the critics

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Oct 23, 2017

This book made me feel like sometimes failing at something or having expectations that are too high can lead to disappointment but a better perspective and show a different purpose to your life.

Check out my review of "Bunheads" on my blog at:

Jul 22, 2016

This book is SO GOOD. It became an instant favourite. It follows the life of Hannah, a professional ballerina in the Manhattan Corps de Ballet. As a dancer, I really enjoyed it and found it relatable. From an outside perspective (as in a non-dancer) I still would have enjoyed the book. I could barely put it down! I would recommend to everyone.

Jul 11, 2016

A great read for everyone, especially dancers. Gives an unexpected, yet accurate insight of the world of professional ballet. I look forward to reading more books similar to this.

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

"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

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!

May 12, 2013

An excellent first novel from retired ballerina Sophie Flack! Flack delivers an insider perspective on ballerina life, making Hannah come to life and revealing the extreme devotion required of ballerinas. Hannah is a character that strives for perfection, but as the novel progresses, we see how vulnerable and insecure she truly is.

mperets Apr 17, 2013

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 16, 2012

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

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Aug 14, 2017

blue_tiger_5319 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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Dec 11, 2012

Coarse Language: Very mild and infrequently used


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Jul 24, 2013

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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