Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Various Positions by Martha Schabas

Various Positions by Martha Schabas.
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux.
Pages: 272.
Release Date: February 14th, 2012.
Source: Publisher.
Trapped between the hormone-driven world of her friends and the discontent of her dysfunctional family, fourteen-year-old Georgia is only completely at ease when she's dancing. When she is accepted into Canada's preeminent ballet school, Georgia thinks it is the perfect escape. Artistic Director Roderick Allen singles her out as a star, subjecting her to increasingly intensive training, and Georgia obsesses about becoming the perfect, disciplined student. But as she spends more and more time with Roderick, it's not so clear exactly what their relationship means. Is he her teacher and mentor, or is there something more? These blurred lines will threaten both Roderick's future at the academy and Georgia's ambitions as a ballerina.

From the synopsis, I gathered that Various Positions would be a story about a meek, innocent fourteen-year-old Georgia who becomes somewhat corrupted and sex influenced at her new ballet academy. And, yes, that's pretty much it, but ... holy crap. You can think you have this book pegged all you want, but no words can justify or summarize the blatant rawness that came with Georgia's unraveling.

If you're expecting a mild, sentimental drama about young girls at ballet school, and if that's what you're looking to read, I don't suggest even considering picking this book up. The subject matter is so intense that it's almost disturbing, but I was so incredibly enraptured. Georgia, I felt, was so authentic as a confused but curious teenager. Her scenes with Roderick were powerful, and her disillusions when it came to him were so intense that they were almost difficult to read without feeling sympathetic toward her.

And speaking about feeling for characters, one of the things I loved most about Martha Schabas is that she made me care for almost every character, even when I didn't want to. At some point in the book, I'd feel a tug of pity for Georgia's erratic mother, or her cold, workaholic father. I'd feel concerned for the sex-obsessed girls at the school, even though I pretty much wanted to smack them all in the face. I'd feel embarrassment for Roderick Allen, who I wanted so badly to deem as the villain but couldn't because I often saw him as a victim.

Overall, Various Positions is not your average coming of age ballerina novel. The overwhelming emotions, the touchy, raunchy scenes and the progressive downfall of Georgia's innocence all make for an compelling, powerful read. I definitely recommend to people who are looking for something heavy and somewhat controversial to read.


  1. Great Review!
    P.S. This book sounds a tiny bit similar to Black Swan.
    Be sure to check out my blog at

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