Wednesday, December 14, 2011



We're seeing a spate of arts related YA fiction, thanks in part to the success of Glee, High School Musical, and their various knockoffs. As someone who grew up dance and theater-obsessed, this thrills my little heart to no end. Seriously, I cannot get enough stories about dancers, musicians, and actors who deal with backstage dramas and the harsh life under the spotlights. Oh, oh, oh! Will the talented musician realize that there's life beyond music? (Yes! Unfortunately, that may mean that she suffers a breakdown before that, but hey!) Will the ballet dancer with promising talent chose her love of the dance over other interests, a sensitive boyfriend, and college? (Oooooh, boy!)

On the other hand, she just might end up taking a BA degree in English literature and writing a YA novel based on her actual experiences as a promising ballet dancer, which is what Sophie Flack has done.

Bunheads was named one of Kirkus Reviews's Best YA of 2011 books, and I can't argue with that. It's certainly one of my favorites from this year. I can tolerate the cheese factor in arts-related fiction and movies (to be fair, you really can find the cheese factor more readily in dance-related movies), but it's so grand when the author rises above that. Flack is definitely a promising young novelist who has taken a not uncommon story line for an arts-related novel and created a fresh, engrossing, and addictive read. She expertly reveals the strenuous life of the apprentice dancer: little time for outside interests or socializing, constant competition, insane expectations, and the physical and emotional exhaustion of a ballet career. On the other hand, it's not all eating disorders and misshapen feet; she does an excellent job in balancing both the negative and positive aspects of ballet. I am most pleased that (((spoiler alert)))))
Hannah does not lose her love for ballet, even though her dancing has taken a different path at the end of the novel. Three cheers for Sophie Flack for that one. (((end spoiler alert))))

Several strong swear words pop up throughout the story (not on a regular basis), and there is a very brief and nongraphic intimate scene. Flack's expertise in the ballet world and her innate creativity with words make this a very entertaining read.
Here is an excellent article about Sophie Flack from the Boston Globe. I'm definitely rooting for this author!

No comments: