30 August 2011

Bunheads; Sophie Flack

BunheadsBunheads by Sophie Flack
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(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 dropped in favor of astronaut, model, cook, etc..

Hannah left home in Massachusetts at 14 to live in the MBA's dorm, attending 'regular' school (the School of the Arts stands in for Professional Children's School) for academics but living and breathing the MBA's classes in all things ballet. Now, as a 19-year-old member of the corps, Hannah is a dancer but not yet a ballerina (there is a difference!) whose life is circumscribed by company class, rehearsals, performances, yoga, Pilates and laundry. One day, after her performance is over, she goes downtown to her cousin's bar/restaurant and meets Jacob, a cute NYU student who is also the evening's "live music". They chat, exchange phone numbers, and Hannah's life starts to change: she now actually know somone who is a so-called pedestrian, a non-dancer.

Over the course of the next year, we get a real look at what these dancers lives are like: the competition for parts, the jockying for notice by the choreographers and teachers, the grueling days of dancing, and of course the obsession with weight and look and line. Warning - if you love the Nutcracker, this might not be the best book to read! Hannah also meets a balletomane, Matt, who is able to wine and dine her, and who - unlike Jacob - understands her schedule.

The choices Hannah makes about her dreams, her goals and her future reminded me of many of the students I knew, and this insider view made me feel that much more for them.

ARC provided by publisher.

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