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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  6,716 ratings  ·  1,005 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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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  6,716 ratings  ·  1,005 reviews

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Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in inner workings of ballet
Recommended to Tatiana by: Kirkus
Shelves: 2, ya, 2011, starred-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
Dec 02, 2011 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 sto
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, read-n-reviewed
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 07, 2011 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 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
Dec 26, 2012 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,
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Nov 30, 2011 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
Dec 30, 2011 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
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Don't call me a ballerina."

Ballet is not pretty. It's gritty. It takes strength, and it is not easy to be strong and stand on a toe tip when you have not eaten all day.

I did not think I would like this book, I thought it would address only the gist of ballet. I did not know this was written by someone who was an experienced dancer, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

The story follows nineteen-year old Hannah Ward through her struggle to rise through the ranks of the Manhattan Ballet Company.
Savannah (Books With Bite)
Oct 11, 2011 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
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
Apr 24, 2012 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
Aug 30, 2011 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
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
★ 4.5 ★

♡ 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
May 30, 2013 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
Sarah (needs a break from reviewing)
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
Oct 17, 2011 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
Brena Green
Jul 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Did I finish this book in a span of 48 hours ? Yes. And I regret nothing.

As a former dancer myself, this book was utterly beautiful. It gave me nostalgia. Also, I’m so glad the “love triangle” wasn’t a real love triangle. 5/5 stars🌟
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
Liza Wiemer
Jan 01, 2012 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
Bethany Huang
Nov 02, 2013 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
At first I felt like I was in a love/hate relationship with this story. I love all the elements that went into being in the ballet and being a ballet dancer but the references to not eating and anorexia bothered me a ton. But I pushed through and I’m happy to say I loved the ending. I thought it was very fitting. I’m glad she chose the right guy. (He’s who I would’ve picked too) And I love the epilogue! So cute! I ended up ordering this book for my personal library after reading it. Def a fav. F ...more
Dana Al-Basha |  دانة الباشا
Hannah Ward, nineteen, revels in the competition, intense rehearsals, and dazzling performances that come with being a member of Manhattan Ballet's Company's corps de ballet, but after meeting handsome musician Jacob she begins to realize there could be more to her life.

Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
Feb 21, 2012 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.
Marco Esteves
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-english
hmmmm a little disappointing but still rlly good
Samantha (WLABB)
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, ya
I was drawn to this book for two reasons. One, because I enjoyed the TV show so much, the other, because I love books about dancers. This was nothing like the TV show, but it was a very honest story about one young woman's life as a dancer. The drive and dedication required to be part of a company is unreal. Hannah and her peers left their families at the age of 14 to pursue their dreams, but there came a point where she had to decide if it was all worth it. If she wanted ballet to be her life o ...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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