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Out of the Blue

Italian book blogger. Loves Jane Austen, ice cream, and the colour blue.
Bunheads - Sophie Flack This is a good book with a pretty cover, describing the daily life of a 19-year-old ballet dancer in the Corps of Ballet at Manhattan Ballet during three seasons - fall, winter, and spring. She struggles with her training, auditions, as well as personal relationships, while trying to balance her ballet life with her life outside of the theater.

Hannah Ward has sacrificed a lot to become a ballet dancer. She left her family home at 14 to come to New York alone and study; she trains constantly; she has never had a boyfriend. Now she's giving it all she's got in the hope of becoming a solo dancer. One night at her cousin's restaurant she meets Jacob, a college student and singer-songwriter. They start dating, but Hannah can rarely find the time to see him, making him frustrated. When Hannah lands an important role, she must decide if becoming a solo dancer is really what she wants for herself.

The dust jacket for the Italian edition of this book says, "As fascinating as Black Swan, as unforgettable as Fame". I have never watched either, so I can't really draw comparisons, but it feels a bit exaggerated (like most marketing claims, I'm afraid).

I found this account of a young ballet dancer's life very fresh and engaging. The author was a ballet dancer for years, so I expect she knows what she's writing about. The narration is in present tense, which feels descriptive more than narrative.

When thinking of ballet dancers, my mind immediately goes to eating disorders, for some reasons. Eating doesn't seem that much of an issue for Hannah, for which I was glad. She seems to struggle more with relating to the other people around her than ballet dancing per se, with the exception of training to make her breasts smaller, as requested by the main choreographer. She wants to be noticed by the choreographers; be freinds with her fellow dancers, who are often rivals for a part; and to get to have a semi-normal life, having a boyfriend and attending parties. As one of her friends makes her realize, however, being a solo dancer will make her even busier. She will become a total "bunhead", i.e. a ballet dancer with no life whatsoever. Thus, Hannah must decides if this is really what she wants to do with her life.

I sort of spoiled the ending for myself reading the epilogue while I had still to read the last thrid of the novel, but the ending was actually what I expected, so I wasn't disappointed. I'd recommend this book to those who want to find out more about the life of a ballet dancer.

Cover attraction: pretty! I love the optical effect of the circle of dancers and their tutus. The paperback cover is simpler and also more boring, but it still looks good.