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 to compete against the other “bunheads” in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?
Design – Tracy Shaw Photo – Karl Taylor
I really like this cover. The kaleidoscope pattern of ballerinas is visually interesting, and representative of how hard it is for Hannah to stand out among the other dancers. It also reminds me of how easily she gets lost in the insular world of the ballet company.
Bunheads is a New Adult that feels like a YA because it’s more focused on plot and personal development than romance. Hannah, at 19, is finding that she feels overlooked in the ballet company she’s devoted her every waking moment to. So, when the pressure starts weighing her down and she meets a guy who sees her as more than a ballerina, she finds herself questioning the future she’s always planned.
- Jacob – What I really appreciated about this story is that the love interest has his own life going on. Jacob really likes Hannah and doesn’t want to give up on her. He’s extremely patient and willing to try again and again to break Hannah out of her ballet bubble. But his life doesn’t revolve around her – he’s got his own music career to start and doesn’t like being ignored.
- plot – Hannah’s only nineteen, but she’s spent her whole life only concentrating on ballet and doesn’t know anything else. She almost literally has no time to do anything besides dance. Despite her dedication to ballet, Hannah feels overlooked when she can’t seem to get promoted to better parts. The amount of pressure on the girls is insane and every little thing about them is scrutinized constantly. Hannah’s a young woman living in NYC and seeing nothing but the inside of the ballet studio. But pressure and the feeling of being ignored are universal.
- new start – Just when everything seems to be crumbling around Hannah, she realizes that ballet doesn’t have to be her life anymore. There’s so much going on in Hannah’s life and all of it seems to be pointing to the end of her ballet career. It’s hard to give up something she’s put so much into, but it doesn’t mean that she can’t start doing something new that will be even more fulfilling.
- dancers’ bodies – The author was a ballet dancer for many years and writes about the toll on Hannah’s body realistically. Hannah is so devoted to dancing that she’s just beginning to develop breasts, skips meals, and has friends her age that haven’t had their first period yet. One of the star ballerinas is so malnourished that she develops a thyroid disorder. Hannah exercises constantly, and that’s in addition to her endless daily rehearsals.
- “friendly” competition – Hannah and her friends regularly insult one another, both behind each other’s backs and not so secretly. The competition between these girls always comes before their friendships. They aren’t happy for one another’s accomplishments and they don’t support each other. Everything is about being better than one another at dancing. They are all so self-centered and focused on ballet that they can’t even treat each other nicely.
- Matt – Hannah feels like no one appreciates her hard work, so when a rich guy who’s familiar with ballet takes an interest in her, she gets the ego boost she needs. Matt, however, is known around the Company for routinely wooing and then dumping young dancers. He’s smooth-talking, constantly complimenting Hannah, and spends money on lavish gifts, but all he sees is a beautiful and thin ballerina – now who Hannah really is or what makes her different than any of the other dancers. Sure, he understands her ridiculous schedule, but having a guy willing to never see you doesn’t sound like a relationship to me.
“And now brace yourself because this might just blow your mind…There’s more to the world than just New York City.” His eyes widen, and he mimes an explosion with his hands.
“Wait, what?” I feign shock. “You mean, we won’t fall off the planet if we walk below the financial district?”
Jacob shakes his head slowly, with an expression of utter seriousness. “Crazy, right?”
– Jacob + Hannah pg. 189
So what if I don’t have time to appreciate the pretty pink buds opening on the trees near the Avery Center? So what if I’ve stopped eating bread, stopped opening mail, stopped answering my phone?
My mother learns to text in desperation. ‘Call me sometimes why don’t u?’ she writes. ‘Daddy sends luv.’
‘So busy,’ I write back. ‘Love u.’
– pg. 232