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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  4,016 ratings  ·  709 reviews
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 t...more
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published October 10th 2011 by Poppy (first published January 1st 2011)
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Bunheads by Sophie FlackA Company of Swans by Eva IbbotsonBallet Shoes by Noel Streatfeilddancergirl by Carol M. TanzmanOn Pointe by Lorie Ann Grover
YA Dance Books
1st out of 79 books — 126 voters
Catching Jordan by Miranda KenneallyLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsEpic Fail by Claire LaZebnikWe'll Always Have Summer by Jenny HanAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
2011 YA Contemporaries
58th out of 165 books — 549 voters

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Community Reviews

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Oct 12, 2011 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in inner workings of ballet
Recommended to Tatiana by: Kirkus
Shelves: 2011, ya
Bunheads is a very subdued, gentle novel about ballet dancing. Think Black Swan

minus craziness, blood and sex.

The quietness of this novel works both against it and to its advantage.

Ballet dancing is an unforgiving, competitive, extremely demanding form of art. (Imagine being fired for having breasts big enough to require a bra!) It would be very easy to find some high drama in it to write a shocking novel around - backstabbery, injuries, life-threatening dieting, exhausting, endless rehearsals -...more
Emily May

I didn't really think I'd like this book, I have to admit. I was curious about it after reading Tatiana's review, but this novel has been described as all the things that usually bore me to death: gentle, subtle, subdued, quiet... I've read these kinds of stories before that are meant to be all about the realism with little excitement, sadness or anything particularly noteworthy - I have always found them dull. Until now.

The realism in Bunheads really works to its advantage and makes the story...more
While this book was so good, for me, that I finished it in one day; I fear that it may not be as good for others. Here's what I mean...

I trained in ballet for 15 years. I basically learned to walk, was potty trained, and then off the dance school I went at the age of 2. So when I was reading this book, it was more than that. I was seeing this book. I loved the way Sophie Flack walks you through the ballets Hannah is doing step by step. However she uses all of the proper French terms for each ste...more
I'm stoked for this book. My appreciation for Sophie Flack goes back more than 10 years, when I desperately envied her and the life I imagined she had. Beautiful, thin, and definitely going somewhere, she was featured all over the Discount Dance Supply catalogs and their Dance Magazine advertisements when I was a teenager. Pouring over catalogs, magazines, and the few dance books I could get access to in semi-rural Virginia, I strived for ballet success. I craved both knowledge of and entry to t...more
3.5 stars.

I guess I’ll have to thank Natalie Portman’s movie, Black Swan, for getting me to pick up this book.

I was totally fascinated and riveted by the ballet parts in this book. Ah, it shows how far ballet dancers would go to get the parts they want; from extreme dieting, an addiction to constant rigorous practice, denial of personal interactions and social lives, and an over importance placed on physical beauty and form. It’s not psychologically scary like Black Swan is but it is raw, gritt...more
Rachel Brown
A YA novel about Hannah, a 19-year-old dancer in a huge New York ballet company. She went off to study at the Manhattan Ballet Academy when she was very young, and so ballet has been her entire life.

It begins when she’s getting frustrated with not having a life, partly due to meeting a quirky musician whose name I have already forgotten. Will she quit ballet, get a life, and stay with Quirky McWhatsisface? Or will she continue her obsessive routine and maybe become a star at the cost of misery...more
(full disclosure: I was the author's librarian waaay back when!)

This is a great look at how a girl's dream (ok, passion and obsession) with becoming a ballerina can change as she becomes a woman. With the Metropolitian Ballet and its Academy standing in for New York City Ballet and its School of American Ballet, we also get a great behind-the-scenes look at the lives of those girls, the ones that really pursued the dream to become the ballerina many of us wanted to be when we were younger but d...more
After reading a few chapters of Bunheads, I began to suspect this was a book I wouldn’t like. The pace was quite slow, the technical ballet terms made my brain fuzzy, and there were so many characters introduced that they were all beginning to blur together. But I had read many glowing reviews by reviewers I trust, so I persevered. And somewhere around the halfway mark, I started to understand why Sophie Flack wrote Bunheads this way. The slower pace, the huge cast of characters, and the in-dept...more
Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)
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...more
When she was eight-years-old, Hannah’s dance instructor told her young students to “Dance each step as if it were your last.” Hannah didn’t know what she meant then, but now that she is nineteen-years-old and apart of the corps de ballet of the Manhattan Ballet Company, she is starting to understand the truth behind those words.

The corps de ballet dancers are not ‘real’ ballerinas – they are the dancers behind the true stars, the real prima ballerinas who dance solos and are the rock-stars of th...more
Savannah (Books With Bite)
I loved this book! As a dancer in high school, I totally related to this book. Everything about the dancing world is right to the T, and I loved the characters.

What I liked most about this book, is the great plot line. Filled with aspiring dancers yearning for the spot light, to get to that place it takes really hard work. I loved all the dancers in the book, the competitions and the drama. The feeling of the rush of adrenaline while on stage filled my veins as I read this book. I haven't danced...more
Liza Wiemer
Jan 01, 2012 Liza Wiemer added it
Shelves: arc
I received a copy of the BUNHEADS ARC from Heidi of YABibliophile. http://www.yabibliophile.com/ Thanks Heidi for passing this on to me.
Ever wondered what it's like to be a ballet dancer? If so, BUNHEADS is the novel for you. Even though Sophie Flack's novel is fiction, it's clear she draws upon her firsthand knowledge from when she danced for the New York City Ballet from 2000-2009. She does an exquisite job explaining this world and making it real for the reader - the intensity, competition, e...more
My take: Hannah is a thinly veiled Sophie Flack, a former member of the Manhattan Ballet Company and a solid voice in Young Adult (semi) fiction. Her life experience has clearly and definitively shaped her writer's voice. Flack's story is about Hannah, a dancer. She spares no reader from the brutality of ballet. On stage, the dancers are graceful and defy gravity. They dance in unison and in perfect time. But performing is only one aspect of the job. The work is grueling and punishing, both phys...more
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
Beautifully written. The ballet insider part felt so real and unique, and the boy parts were pretty luscious. I did feel that the ending almost came on a little too fast - I would have appreciated more struggle towards the climax. But overall, I really enjoyed this one. And the costumes and frocks and makeup! Fab! =)
MCPLD Youth Department
Do ballerinas always think about food? This book makes me think that they do, which is a minor detail that I liked- it made the book seem very realistic.
16/3 - A lot of other reviewers are seeing Black Swan similarities or are reading the book because they loved the movie. Maybe I'm old, but I'm not thinking of Black Swan, I'm thinking of Centre Stage from 2000. I loved that movie when it came out and it's still one of my all-time favourite dance movies. There are quite a few plot/character similarities between the two (certainly more than with Black Swan). Hannah's got two guys after her (although neither are dancers, as they are in Centre Stag...more
A contemporary YA set in the world of classical ballet. You know it made me curious. This book was so rich in this world that you know that someone had the inside scoop of this life. In seeing who the author was and what she had done, you know everything was accurate. You begin to wonder where did real life end and the fiction begin? In other words, I'm curious as to what part was real life and was this a fictional version of the author's own struggle for a much fuller life than what a singular...more
I've been wanting to read a YA novel set in the world of ballet for a very long time now, so I was ecstatic when I heard about Bunheads. I downloaded it to my Kindle pretty much the second it released and stayed up way too late reading it. It was so worth it, though, because I absolutely adored this book.

I connected very strongly with the main character, Hannah. Nothing is just handed to her. She's a talented dancer, but even so she has to work incredibly hard and even then she doesn't always g...more
Bethany Huang
This is a book I've known about before it was released. I've seen it multiple times in my library back in New York but never picked it up because I figured I'd never forget about it and someday I'd eventually get on to reading it. And now I'm regretting it, because this book is like looking out my window and seeing a completely different world. I read this book in one whole sitting- I didn't get up even once- because I didn't want this beautiful and realistic story to end.

Reading about Hannah's...more
-k The Lady Critic
First off, Sophie Flack is a darling and absolutely adorable. I was lucky enough to snag a signed copy of this novel – complete with a cute drawing of toe shoes - at BEA and I started to read it almost right away (I needed a book to read at lunch and this was my choice).

I’ve been fascinated with the world of ballet and the whole ballet life in New York City never since I watched the movie Center Stage. Watching Black Swan just upped my curiosity and by reading this novel I feel as though I’ve c...more
Jan 23, 2012 kari rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012, ya, 5-star
I loved this story and the way it's told. It's first person present and you feel that you are experiencing the story along with Hannah. She has lived and breathed ballet for most of her life, attending a prestigious ballet school from the age of fourteen which neccessitated living away from home and then joining the company at seventeen. There is the constant rehearsals and classes and competition for better parts and advancement. I could feel Hannah's frustration.
One of the things I most enjoye...more
Awful. Gave up after ~40%.

Books like Bunheads remind me that I can be a little harsh in my reviews. It's easy to laser in on the flaws of a novel -- a cliched storyline here; an underdeveloped character there -- and forget how much of a colossal achievement it is to write 80,000 words of a story that progresses and maintains a reader's interest and contains characters that could pass for real people. Most books aren't, by real standards, "badly written". They're simply flawed.

Bunheads, however,...more
The story is about Hannah, a 19 year-old dancer (don’t call her a ballerina) for the Manhattan Ballet who is at a pivotal point in her life: move on up in the ballerina ranks, or drop it all to see what else the world has to offer.

Author Sophie Flack was a former ballerina for the NYC Ballet, so she knows what she’s talking about. She draws a detailed picture of life as a working ballerina, and it’s a grueling image. She takes the reader to the backstage goings-on that “pedestrians” (non-dancers...more
Dec 28, 2011 Lessa rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
The writing was pretty terrible, after reading the biography of the author, it was pretty obvious the story was at minimum semi-autobiographical (not that theres necessarily anything wrong with that), and I felt that she peppered the action sequences with ballet lingo to try to make her work credible in the ballet world. The main character, Hannah, develops and has the same epiphany throughout the entire book but it takes her 300 pages to make the choice she's obviously been making all along. He...more
I'm not really the sort of person that goes for books about dancing or prom or other girly things. But this book isn't really about the glamour of dancing. It's about the hard work, diets, tierible body image and other things that ballet dancers have to deal with. I first heard about this book in Teen Vouge which made me think that it would be really lovey dovey and stupid. When I heard that Flack was really young I thought it would be really badly written. It's not any of these things. It was v...more
Kimberly Russell
I read Bunheads like it was my job. I don’t think I have actually ever read a book about a ballerina before so I was a bit engrossed with the whole thing. Usually I’m all about the plot of a novel but I really loved the protagonist, Hannah. She’s awesome. And so is Sophie Flack for writing this. I love when YA isn't dumbed down.
Francine Soleil
I was one of those little girls who wanted to be a ballerina. I'm not really sure why, but I never really pursued it. My parents, being business people, didn't encourage the arts, even though all their children leaned towards it. Just seeing the ballerinas on the cover of this book made me want to read it.

Despite being fascinated by the performance arts, I actually don't know much about it. So I was really surprised by what I learned in this book. Bunheads paints the backstage picture of the bal...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hannah (The Irish Banana Review)
I have been fascinated by dancers for as long as I can remember. Now I personally have the balance and coordination of a drunken ostrich on a good day, so dancing isn’t exactly my forte. But I love and respect the elegance of dance, both choreographed and improv. I admire the dedication people have to this sport; they constantly and consciously inflict damage and pain on their body to achieve that perfect move, that perfect moment. I found myself just as captivated by Sophie Flack’s Bunheads as...more
Oct 15, 2011 Michaela rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ballet dancers, ballerinas, dancers, artists, balletomanes
Finally! A book that reflects the work ethic, sufferings, rewards, trials, hopes, and emotions of ballet dancers! I love how it accurately portrays a dancer's life- the geography of New York and sight seeings wonderfully transports me to the Big Apple while the descriptions of performances, gives me a first row seat to the world of ballet!
In this book, Hannah, a ballet dancer who dreams of being a soloist dancer- even principal- commiserates with friends over the strains and hardships in a dance...more
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Sophie Flack danced with the New York City Ballet from 2000 to 2009. She is currently studying English at Columbia University. Bunheads is her first novel.
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