Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bunheads

Bunheads by Sophie Flack
kindle edition purchased from amazon.com
Description from Goodreads:

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.

My take:
I originally wanted to read this book because of the insider's view of being a member of a large ballet company.  I have two daughters who dance and I wanted to see if Bunheads would be appropriate for my older daughter to read. 

I found it very interesting to read about the everyday life of a corp de ballet dancer. Hannah is a likable character - not perfect, not bad, just a normal girl. I enjoyed reading about the experience of competing with the same girls who are your closest friends and some of the few people who understand the physical and emotional toll that dancing for a living takes on a person.

I liked that the book explores many of the issues that are prevalent in the dance world -- weight, eating issues, physical injury, dealing with egotistical directors/instructors and weighing the pros and cons of choosing to give so much of yourself into dance and dance alone. I think it is good for young dancers to confront these issues before they have made life changing decisions. 

I was very amused by the portrayal of the dancers' views about The Nutcracker ballet performances.  My daughters have danced in a major ballet company's Nutcracker for the last several years and we mothers always wonder how on earth the company dancers can stand to dance it every year - and so many performances.  I have a friend who used to be a professional ballet dancer and many of the stories she has told me about her experiences are mirrored in Bunheads.  There were a couple of places that Hannah expresses almost exactly the same sentiments of my friend. So, I had a fun time reading this book.

For parents wondering if it is appropriate for their middle to older children: There is some language and some under age drinking. Other than those pretty minor things, I think it is a fine read for teens/tweens.

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