Author: Sophie Flack
Pages [hardcover]: 294
bea & hannah
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?
I already knew a bit about the world of dancers coming into this and was excited by the prospect of a fresh in-depth view coming in a YA novel. While I wasn’t exactly disappointed and can say that Bunheads is both enjoyable and memorable, it fell bland at parts and I never actually got to feel for any of the characters.
Hannah, the main character, isn’t very happy with the way her career is going. It’s looking like she’s going to get promoted, become a soloist, getting everything she’d always dreamed out. But she’ll also miss out on her chances at life. With little free time, she can’t go out anywhere, or date anyone, make friends outside of the company, or even finish a book. She’s not sure she wants to commit the rest of her youth to becoming completely dedicated to dance. The reader is only given hints as to the hobby’s and passions she might have possibly developed if she had the time, from the ever-present copy of Frankenstein she has sitting around and her scribbling in her notebook every fifty pages or so. But, as this is told in first-person, I would have thought there’d be more insight into what she was thinking. The majority of her uneasy feelings don’t happen until near the end, and then I felt like I was reading about an entirely different person as there was little transition.
Her change of heart begins not because of something she wants for herself, but because of boys. Of course. There’s Matt and Jacob, and she’s inevitably confused for a while over which she should start liking. They both annoy me in different ways and while there were a few redeeming qualities to balance things out, Hannah’s own choices in response didn’t make much sense. What girl would react like that? Unless she was already considering something other than dancing, which I suppose the constant complaints from her were supposed to allude to, but all of the dancers in here complained a lot. They had much to complain about.
The ending . . . I didn’t like it, at all. While parts of it were good and natural, most of it felt forced as well as rushed. There was a neat little trick to tie it all together, which I thought was awesome, but by the last page, I still couldn’t feel much toward any of the characters. And I wanted to. I really did.
DANCE ON BY THIS ONE. 3/5 STARS