3.73 (5,792 ratings by Goodreads)
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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. . .show more

Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 126 x 196 x 26mm | 240.4g
  • Little, Brown Book Group
  • ATOM
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1907411275
  • 9781907411274
  • 76,189

Review quote

Starred Review: [The author] brilliantly captures the arc from soaring ballerina to exhausted dancer collapsing in a pool of sweat and the crushing disappointment of not becoming a soloist, forever doomed to dance corps roles. Details have been changed, but fans of ballet will nonetheless relish the inside scoop.A multi-layered and absorbing good read by a promising debut novelist. * Kirkus * Exhilaration and drudgery, passion and exhaustion, exist side by side for dancers in the exalted Manhattan Ballet, a world unto itself, which Flack (a former New York City Ballet dancer) brings vividly to life in this strong debut. Readers, both dancers and "pedestrians" (the corps' term for nondancers), will find Hannah's struggle a gripping read. * Publishers Weekly * This romantic and compelling story is one of passion, love and rivalry - you'll be captivated. * Closer *show more

About Sophie Flack

Sophie Flack danced with the New York City Ballet from 2000 until 2009. She is currently studying English at Columbia University. Bunheads is her first novel.show more

Review Text

This romantic and compelling story is one of passion, love and rivalry - you'll be captivated. Closershow more

Rating details

5,792 ratings
3.73 out of 5 stars
5 24% (1,385)
4 37% (2,130)
3 30% (1,741)
2 7% (431)
1 2% (105)

Our customer reviews

If you think that ballet dancers have it easy, think again...or read Bunheads, Sophie Flack's debut novel all about the life of a dancer with the prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company. Hannah Ward is doing what she's always wanted to do - dance. Hannah's whole life has revolved around ballet, and now that's she nineteen, it's about to get a lot tougher. Adding to the general drama of dancing life, Hannah meets Jacob, a talented musician who she is instantly attracted to. Hannah's committment to ballet and the dancing world, however, proves to be a test in her new relationship, as Hannah grows to realise there is more to the world than just dancing. I fell in love with this book from the minute I first heard of it. I love books to do with dancing, and it's not often that you get one that portrays the real life world as a dancer. Bunheads was a true on form account on what happens in a dance company - written by a dancer herself. Bunheads is definitely a book for the older YA readers, as it's definitely not your average Ballet Shoes or Angelina Ballerina read. Bunheads is gritty - it's a world where eating disorders are rife and dancers are under the pressure to remain thin and waife-like. Friendships are tested and the claws come out in wanting to show up each other - and these girls aren't even twenty yet. But this is what I loved about the book. It shows a different side to ballet - certainly not the glamourous side that we see going to watch a performance, but what happens backstage. Yet at the same time, while the reader is asking Why on earth would you put yourself through all of that? you are given the picture of what makes ballet so beautiful, and where the love of dancing comes from for many of the girls. What I also enjoyed about the book was that the main character wasn't some wimpy, naive girl. Hannah was a strong character, but at the same time she was exactly like every girl in the company - catty and bitchy towards the other dancers, quick to pick faults with her friends and talk about them behind their back. Sure, this isn't exactly the type of trait you'd want in a friend, but what makes Hannah unique compared to all of her dancer friends is that she realises that there's a life outside of it all, and that dancing has, in a way, shaped her to be a person that she really doesn't want to be. There were at times, when Hannah was a little too selfish and wrapped up in her own world so much that you wanted to strangle her, but I'm starting to realise that when reading a book, that's a good thing. Emotions mean I'm enjoying the book. And then the romance. Oh, I lapped this up. Jacob was perfect. I loved him myself. I loved how understanding he was about Hannah's ballet, and how awestruck he was by her dancing. How from the word go, he took it on board, he didn't glamourize it and he was supportive. He wasn't afraid, as well, to speak up about how much he was hurting when she put dancing before him. But always, he was still there for her. And it broke my heart, it tore me in two, it made me sigh in contentment and wish that I could have a Jacob in my life! While for those who don't know the ballet world (like I do; this was a dream come true for me), understanding the French terminology may be difficult, as there was no index to what certain words mean, and thus are lost in translation when trying to understand why Hannah is sweating away at trying to perfect certain moves. This is still an enjoyable novel, and in a world where ballet is so hot right now (thanks, Natalie Portman), this is one book you'll want to read. You'll feel like a dancer, if only for a little while.show more
by Hannah
I was eagerly anticipating this book being published in the UK after hearing rave reviews of it from many international reviewers. I've never been particularly interested in the ballet, but this book gave a very fascinating insight into the dancing world. This book will certainly appeal to anyone who has an interest in dance as well as fans of coming of age, contemporary novels. Apparently, this book also has a lot of likeness to Black Swan (though toned down), though I've never watched it - so if you liked that, check this out! It is clear that Sophie Flack, the author, has an incredible knowledge of ballet and the inner workings of ballet groups. There is quite a lot of dance-related terminology used without any explanation but I don't think that it is at all necessary to know what all of the terms mean - it's easy to just get drawn into Hannah's world. Hannah is our protagonist who is completely devoted to her art . However, alongside her, we struggle to decide whether she is making the best choice for herself - can she be a ballerina and lead a 'normal' life? It's hard to say and even at the end, it's difficult to know if Hannah has made the right choice for herself or not. Hannah is a very down to earth and realistic character and it's understandable to see how and why she had issues with her options for the future. I wouldn't say that there were many 'OMG' moments or huge plot twists, but there is a lot of underlying drama in Bunheads. The book is rather subdued and relaxed but it's certainly not boring - it's just subtle. There is the right amount of gritty and raw information about the strictness and mentality of some dancers. The details are quite constant and very realistic. The novel wasn't so much focused on the struggles of being a dancer but rather with how Hannah and her friends dealt with them and how they grew and developed in such a disciplined situation. I thought that the relationships in this book were very well written. Hannah's friendships are typical of an environment that's quite female dominated and very competitive. I found it difficult to trust some of Hannah's friends, just like she did. I did find them quite endearing in their own way though and everyone in the group had distinct personalities and attitudes. I really loved Hannah and Jacob's relationship. It took a while for chemistry to build up between them and I did feel sorry for both of them a lot of the time. I sympathised with Jacob for putting so much effort into trying to spend time with Hannah and I sympathised with Hannah for finding it difficult to find that time. I found their relationship to be very realistic, I just loved the development of it and that they worked together through the problems. I don't know what Hannah was doing with the other love interest, the balletomane Matt, but it was interesting to see the different kinds of people that dancers come across in their lives. Overall, this was a very interesting book which taught me a lot about the backstage goings-on of ballet dancers and the hard work that they go through, both physically and mentally. This was a relaxed but entertaining book that had me questioning to the end. I think that this one will appeal to a lot of young adult and adult readers alike.show more
by Stephanie Forster (Stepping out of the Page)
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