Sophie Flack's debut novel must be somewhat autobiographical. Flack spent time as a professional ballerina, which is what her main character's life revolves around. Hannah Ward can barely remember a time when she didn't want to dance. Her life revolves around the Manhattan Ballet Company, exercise (in order to maintain her skeletal frame), and the other ballerinas who are her best friends. But when she meets Jacob, she is suddenly confronted with the possibility of a normal life and the idea that there is more to life than dancing.
Aside from my sister's ballet lessons she took for just a few years during our childhood, I know little of the world of professional dance. Hannah's dedication to her career is remarkable, yet seems somewhat comfortable as well, since this is the life she knows and where her friends are. Ever since she was fourteen Hannah has been on her own in New York City, a life that has been consumed by her passion. Because Flack has personal experience with the ballet, this novel is much more intriguing to me, and sheds light on something I had not given much thought to before. While the world of ballet requires a great deal of self-discipline and can be ruthless as ballerinas fight for solo roles, Hannah does find friendship in this environment. Her desire to see what else there is to life occurs after she meets Jacob, and has her way of thinking challenged.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I began this novel. The cover is certainly intriguing, and the idea of a book centered around ballet also sounded interesting. However, Flack's novel is much more than that. A coming-of-age novel, including themes of friendship, perseverance, achieving your dreams are all present. I loved Bunheads, and am hopeful that Flack will continue to write more young adult novels.