Friday, December 2, 2011

My take on: Bunheads

Hannah Ward gave up her teenage years to pursue her dreams of being a ballet soloist. Is all the hard work worth it? Is it worth it to give up her social life? Is it worth it to live in a bubble? Those are the questions facing Hannah Ward in Bunheads by Sophie Flack.

Hannah's life is all about the ballet. All of her friends are members of the Manhattan Ballet company. Most of their discussions revolve around ballet. Should they eat? How much should they eat? If they do socialize it's mostly with people who know about the life? People outside of ballet are "pedestrians." Why would a ballerina want to socialize with a pedestrian? They wouldn't understand the time and dedication it takes. Hannah's friends, Bea and Zoe, understand what it takes. Zoe a little more so.

At times, Zoe seems more like and adversary than a friend. Zoe wants to be a soloist just as badly as Hannah. To me Zoe was a little cutthroat, she knows what words and actions can hurt. But Zoe can also be sweet. Welcoming Hannah and Bea into her home life. A life with an absentee mother.

Hannah's world is thrown for a loop when she meets Jacob, a handsome musician/college student. He can have a conversation that doesn't involve ballet. He likes to explore the city, something that's foreign to Hannah. For Hannah much of life doesn't exist too far outside of the Manhattan Ballet company. At just 19, life has passed her by. Jacob tries to change all of this. The few moments they have together are very sweet. You pull for Hannah to have a sense of normalcy. Hannah feels free on the dance floor, it's everywhere else that's a problem.

Finding time for Jacob proves difficult. Plans are constantly cancelled, phone calls are missed. Is this a relationship worth salvaging? Can she make him understand? She wants to be with him, but it's hard to be in two places at once.

The world of ballet is both fascinating and sad at times. Fascinating in the amount of work it takes for a ballet to come together. Those ballet shoes also seem to take a beating before they even make it on a pair of feet. Sad because of the weight issues that surround the ballet world. Hannah is told to lose weight simply because her body is going through normal changes. She develops breasts like all normal women, but instead of embracing her curves Hannah starts to hate them. A boyish figure is ideal for someone in Hannah's position.

There is no right or wrong answer to Hannah's problems. Either way there is some happiness out there. Choosing Jacob means she can finally have a life. Choosing ballet means she can eventually achieve her dream. Hannah just has to find her own path to it. If you're interested in another way of life, pick up this one.

Rating: Superb


Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Little Brown, and Company) in exchange for an honest review.

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