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3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,287 Ratings  ·  847 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
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published October 10th 2011 by Poppy
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Bunheads by Sophie FlackA Company of Swans by Eva IbbotsonBallet Shoes by Noel StreatfeildOn Pointe by Lorie Ann Groverdancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman
YA Dance Books
1st out of 154 books — 179 voters
Catching Jordan by Miranda KenneallyLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsEpic Fail by Claire LaZebnikAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsWe'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
2011 YA Contemporaries
57th out of 165 books — 597 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 12, 2011 Tatiana rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in inner workings of ballet
Recommended to Tatiana by: Kirkus
Shelves: ya, 2011
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 -
Emily May
Mar 30, 2012 Emily May rated it really liked it

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
Nov 08, 2011 Darkfallen rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-n-reviewed, arc
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
Oct 16, 2011 Mary rated it liked it
Shelves: dance-books, fiction
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
Cora Tea Party Princess
5 Words: Ballet, dance, life, obsession, risk.

I'd seen this book floating around and although it piqued my interest, it took me years to pick it up. It wasn't until I was rereading Ballet Shoes for the umpteenth time that I wondered what it was really like.

I found this book to be honest and wry and quite matter of fact. It didn't pretty everything up and glamourise an intense, difficult discipline. That said, it did have a few laughs and it did have me smiling more often then not.

This was a pret
Rachel Brown
Sep 04, 2013 Rachel Brown rated it it was ok
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
FIRST THOUGHTS: As a former ballet dancer, there is something incredibly magical about novels that manage to capture it perfectly - Bunheads is one of those stories. I'm so in love with how performances and ballet life is described, so while it's a quieter contemporary read than I'm used to, my affection for it is pretty strong.
Apr 22, 2012 Krystle rated it really liked it
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
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
Dec 26, 2012 Nicola rated it did not like it
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,
Dec 28, 2011 Lessa rated it did not like it
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
Bunheads captivated me with its realistic portrayal of a teenage girl’s descent from the ballet world. Flack’s debut novel is unflinchingly honest. As Hannah discovers a new life outside of ballet, she begins to question whether she’s willing to sacrifice it all for the one thing she’s ever wanted: to become a soloist.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves dance or a sweet, understated story. It was Bunheads that pulled me up out of my reading slump and introduced me to a world very different
Megan Olivier
Nov 01, 2014 Megan Olivier rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book way more than I expected to! I think that's probably because it reminded me a lot of Center Stage, which was one of my favourite films when I was younger. I think I know every word of it off by heart!

I'll be talking more about this book in my full video review (linked below), but I'd definitely recommend it if you enjoy watching ballet movies/documentaries as much as I do!
May 11, 2012 ALPHAreader rated it really liked it
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
Savannah (Books With Bite)
Oct 17, 2011 Savannah (Books With Bite) rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 30, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
(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
Jun 04, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swoon
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
Mar 17, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
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
Jessica (Jess Hearts Books)
Bunheads was such an indulgent read for me, I’m fascinated by anything to do with dance- despite not being a dancer myself- I love watching movies like Black Swan and Step Up, old childhood books like Ballet Shoes, and TV show dancing competitions. I love everything from the beautiful costumes and dramatic make up to the fairy-tale like sets to the art of dance itself. I’ve been to the theatre to watch ballet a few times and every time I get so caught up in the story that the ballerina’s tell wi ...more
Bethany Huang
Nov 02, 2013 Bethany Huang rated it it was amazing
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
Liza Wiemer
Jan 01, 2012 Liza Wiemer added it
Shelves: arc
I received a copy of the BUNHEADS ARC from Heidi of YABibliophile. 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
Oct 18, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it
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
Claudia (Another Bennet)

Just when you think you can't go on, somewhere a little light comes on.

Such a good surprise!! After almost 2 months of a major reading slump, this book was such a nice read and totally got me out of it. Sophie's Flack writing and description is simple and beautiful. I felt connected to the characters and to the plot. I could totally picture myself following Hannah, the main character, walking through MBA and get attached to her. I think Sophie does a gob job filling the reader on what's l
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
Mar 13, 2012 Tiff at Mostly YA Lit rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 28, 2015 G.G. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ballet
Obviously, I'm far too old to read a Young Adult novel except from an anthropological point of view. Even on that score, Bunheads doesn't disappoint. As other reviewers have pointed out, the novel is a roman à clef by Sophie Flack, who really danced with the New York City Ballet for nine years. (For more on this aspect of the novel, see the review by Mary: The closed world of ballet--especially at the corps de ballet level--is convincingly depicted. (Su ...more
Francine Soleil
Oct 16, 2014 Francine Soleil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fluffy-reads

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 ba
Jun 11, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
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
-k The Lady Critic
Jun 17, 2011 -k The Lady Critic rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, arc-copy
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
Jan 23, 2012 kari rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, 5-star, 2012
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
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Bunheads 1 4 Jun 20, 2012 07:47PM  
  • Audition
  • Dancing on the Inside
  • On Pointe
  • The Melting Season
  • dancergirl (WiHi, #1)
  • Girl in Motion
  • Marie, Dancing
  • Strings Attached
  • Virtuosity
  • Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal
  • Someday Dancer
  • Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You
  • Various Positions
  • Leap
  • Jersey Tomatoes are the Best
  • Lie
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Rival
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.
More about Sophie Flack...

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“Things are prettier in June, but they're clearer in July.” 15 likes
“Just when you think you can't go on, somewhere a little light comes on.” 15 likes
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