Release Date: October 2, 2011
Age group: Young Adult
Description (from Goodreads):
As a dancer with the Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward is living her childhood dream. She gets to be up on stage in front of adoring crowds every night. And while she might not be a prima ballerina yet, she's moving up the ranks and surely if she works hard enough she can make it happen.
But devoting her whole life to ballet leaves very little time for anything else: friends, family, school have all fallen by the wayside. Hannah doesn't mind, until a chance encounter in a restaurant brings Jacob into her life. He's cute, he plays guitar and he's offering a whole future that Hannah never considered. And now she must choose between her lifelong dream or what could be the love of her life...
Hannah is 19 years old. She left her parents and her home when she was 14 and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan Ballet Academy. Now she is a dancer in the Manhattan Ballet, dreaming about her first solo role and a possible promotion. But when she meets Jacob, a NYU student and a musician, she starts to question her future. Is she ready to sacrifice her life to be a ballerina, or are there maybe other things she would like to do?
I am not very familiar with ballet. I have actually seen a ballet in New York City and then also here in Edinburgh, but that is pretty much it. And I guess I can count Black Swan to my ballet experiences because I have seen that film like 20 times. This book was written by an ex-professional ballet dancer, and she uses some of the terminology related to that world (movements etc) I did not really understand. But that did not really take that much away from the reading experience. So you do not have to be a ballet expert or anything to read this one.
The world of ballet and ballet dancers has always been very distant to me and I am sad to say that this book really did not bring me closer to that world. I loved the New York setting and some of the description of the city, but otherwise there were so many issues in the book that I simply cannot post this review without writing about them. First of all, Hannah is extremely superficial and self-centered for most of the novel. I realize that she is a professional ballet dancer and has to make a commitment, but for most of the time she is total bitch towards Jacob. She does not have time to see him, but then she has time to see Matt, who is this rich guy who just kind of shows up at one point, just because "he understands" her world. I feel like she does not even give a chance for Jacob to understand. Jacob is alright, I guess, but there really is no depth in his character and the whole relationship just feels way too fast. And Jacob is maybe too perfect in the sense that Hannah treats him like shit and he still remains interested.
Hannah's friends also are pretty annoying and there honestly is no depth to them - they are also superficial and self-centered (expect maybe Bea and I hope there would have been more about her in the novel). The world these girls live in is something I have not experienced, so I cannot say are they realistic portrayals or not, but I hope that they are not. I feel like a lot of things were over-simplified for this novel in order to make it compact and happy - even though there are struggle and disappointments, the ending is one of those happy, fairytale-like endings.
If you are a fan of ballet/dancer yourself, this will probably hit closer to home than it did for me. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't memorable either. I probably will have forgotten most of the character names etc. once this review is posted. A fast, somewhat entertaining read for someone interested in ballet/New York.