Writer Sophie Flack is a former dancer of New York City Ballet and a new author to watch. In her debut novel Bunheads, Flack revealed the glamorous but hard lives of members of the ballet corps. Based on her insider experience, she wrote a fascinating, yet bittersweet story about the elite world of professional ballet. Her readers learn about the stunning performances, exhausting rehearsals and backstage drama. They discover fierce competition, but also camaraderie among the dancers.
The heroine, nineteen-year-old Hannah, is a talented and hardworking senior corps member who hopes to become a soloist. She believes that this year is the year when she will get promoted. Even though she tries to concentrate all her efforts on her ballet career, she starts to discover that there is life outside the theatre. She has never dated before and all of a sudden she has two suitors, a charming university student and an affluent ballet patron. It is through them she realizes that life is full of options. Should she keep competing for coveted parts and solos in upcoming performances? Is her job to live or dance? It cannot be both.
Bunheads is a realistic novel about a world of ballet dancers. Flack knows her subject extremely well having lived in that world for nine years. Even though the book is a coming of age story and is marketed as a young adult book, I believe that it will appeal to adult readers as well. The story is absorbing and fast paced; the main and supporting characters are worth spending time with. As a ballet patron, I enjoyed the glimpse into the life on the other side of the stage.