Various Positions
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Various Positions

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3.02 of 5 stars 3.02  ·  rating details  ·  743 ratings  ·  195 reviews
Nuanced, fresh, and gorgeously well-written, Martha Schabas' extraordinary debut novel takes us inside the beauty and brutality of professional ballet, and the young women striving to make it in that world. Shy and introverted, and trapped between the hyper-sexualized world of her teenaged friends and her dysfunctional family, Georgia is only at ease when she's dancing. Fo...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by Doubleday Canada
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,890)
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Sasha
Since the beginning of time (okay, so maybe not that long), there has been a great debate of "What is YA?". I mean, really? What makes a YA book different from a Middle Grade book and a different from an Adult book? I feel like most people would automatically assume it would be the age of the protagonist. If he/she is between 12-18 (the target audience), then the book is YA. HOWEVER, I would consider Sophie Flack's Bunheads to be YA and her main character is 19. The main character in Various Pos...more
Oceana Fern
1.5

This review contains unmarked spoilers.

Dude, that was a really weird book.

Weird in the way that you're going to remember it, but not in a good way.

VARIOUS POSITIONS I'd love to see you try to come up with a dirtier title than that shit is the story of fourteen year old Georgia and her adventures in seducing her ballet teacher, copying porn poses, acting like an idiot, and hurting everyone around her.

I mean, it sounds about right to me.

VARIOUS POSITIONS had a really strange plot, because it wa...more
Merary
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

That was... odd. Weird. Uncomfortable. Utterly not what I thought I was getting: a book about ballet dancers at an exclusive academy. This made me think quite often of last year's movie Black Swan except the whole thing where ballet is not the focus at all: the sexualized teacher-student relationship, the unhealthy obsession with food and thinness, the messed-up family dynamic at home. This is not a dance book at all: this is a book masquerading as...more
Samantha Price
I couldn't put this book down, although I felt disgusted and disturbed throughout most of it. Never did I find myself angry at Georgia, the main character, but more sad. I have read quite a bit about the world of dance, but have never been able to understand it. I appreciate the beauty, but can't imagine putting someone I love (a child) through those sorts of social pressures.

I spent a fair amount of time picking through this novel when I was done. Why did it have to play out the way it did?

I h...more
Melanie McCullough
Various Positions is a gorgeous debut from an exceptional new talent and is written with an authenticity that only a dancer could achieve. It is a deep and powerful story, deftly choreographed. Each word is meaningful, each step purposeful. I could feel the cold Toronto air, see the gray and fading landscape, taste every kiss, experience every embarrassment and stab of guilt. You'll have no choice but to tear through the pages.

Martha Schabas is a wonderful writer and she weaves a tale filled wi...more
Bailey (IB Book Blogging)
I'm a bit speechless after finishing this one. I thought it was going to be about ballet and the obstacles Georgia has to face in that world. Instead, what I got was one of the worst books that I have ever read. Seriously, this book is so messed up that I don't even know where to begin. I am a bit disgusted at everything that happened in VARIOUS POSITIONS and although I try to find the good in every book, I can't think of anything for this one.

Georgia infuriated me. She is supposedly a fourteen...more
Katya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara
Various Positions by Martha Schabas follows fourteen year old Georgia as she starts the Royal Ballet Academy. Georgia's classes are run by Rodrick a cruel man whom Georgia develops a sexual obsession with which overwhelms her life. Georgia has a confusing home life and does not know how to ask for help.

This book was horrifying. I finished it, however only because I was so horrified that I couldn't stop reading. The entire thing reads like an explanation as to why statutory rape isn't wrong becau...more
Karyn Silverman
Brilliant, profoundly troubling, and mostly gorgeous.
Stephanie
Many of these reviews are not really treating this book fairly. This isn't a book about what really happens at a dance academy. This isn't a book about ballet. Yes, these things play a big role in the book, but apparently some are just missing the point.

Georgia is a young, inexperienced in the ways of the world, girl who has just been admitted into a ballet academy. It is obvious during the first few chapters before she enters the academy that because she is so involved in ballet and her dance c...more
Arminzerella
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Kelly
This one didn't work for me much. All of the problems I had in reading it sort of play into one another, making them harder to pull apart. First, maybe, is the age issue. Georgia's in grade 8 at the beginning of the story, when she tries out for the ballet academy. At the end of the book, she's trying out for grade 10. Maybe the middle is a year of time, but it's not clear what the passage of time is. For me, it felt like this all took place over the course of a month or two, given there aren't...more
Johanna
I was very surprised to find that this book was classed as a young adult read – I found it in the adult fiction section in my library – because the rampant sexual curiosity that engulfs the protagonist Georgia is quite graphic. The book explores the teacher-student dynamic at an exclusive ballet academy where Georgia becomes enamoured with her male ballet professor Roderick. At first Georgia’s desire to please Roderick is from a purely technical approach: she desires to be the perfect ballerina,...more
Gem
This debut novel from journalist Martha Schabas is absolutely enthralling. I was skeptical of it at first because the back cover made it sound like another version of Black Swan, but the writing is so good that any similarities between this story and other dark ballet stories were completely forgotten. Georgia is a wonderfully flawed character. So many times, I wanted to yell at her “What are you thinking?” But then I remembered that she is only 14, and she definitely has some emotional issues g...more
Doriana Bisegna
This novel was so laughably bad...I honestly couldn't believe what I was reading! At one point, I thought this was a YA novel but after looking all over for that YA symbol, I figured I was wrong. If this novel is meant for anyone over 18, then I must have missed something in this story! This was a mess of a story for 2 major reasons. There is an episode of anorexia experienced by one of the characters and there is a sexual harassment charge brought against another character. Both of these HUGE i...more
TinasBookReviews
Various Positions...um was this an Erotica, because I thought it was a teen book....my bad. By positions, as in not how far I can stretch my ballerina body but how many funky disgusting sex acts I can engage in at the age of 14? For real you are 14!!! Please go chase butterfly's or actually focus on your dancing before babies start falling out of your vagina and all us tax payers have to pay for it.

Are these authors who write this stuff serious? How does this nonsense get published and marketed...more
Sarah
So I thought the cover was cute and I love me a good ballet book so I grabbed this Advance Reader's Edition to read on the plane ride home yesterday. Whoa....did I misjudge it. Honestly, I felt physically ill as I read this book.

Georgia is only fourteen, immature, and immersed in the world of ballet. She jumps at the chance to join a Canadian ballet school and escape her house, where her mom is slowly going crazy and her dad is constantly absent. She's innocent, but her actions in the book just...more
Katie
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...more
Kyla Crowley
I had hopes for this books. Not high ones, but I at least expected to give it a solid three stars. Nope. As the book carried on, I was going to give the book two stars for my extreme dislike of the main character, Georgia Slade. Now I am going to give it one, because of three things (which will be mentioned later in this review) the main character does that are just so villainous and despicable that I think Captain Hook has more heart. Don't get me wrong, I've read some unlikeable characters in...more
Megan (Book Brats)
Martha Schabas’ debut VARIOUS POSITIONS has had a less-than-stellar reputation amongst my friends and other online reviewers, with a lot of hatred going towards it. I went into it not knowing what to expect other than ballet and sex. But something about the premise intrigued me, even though I am normally not a fan of contemporary books, nor do I know ANYTHING about ballet. What I found, though, was a book pitched as young adult that really should be on adult shelves only, a book about a girl goi...more
Jesylyn Batman
I absolutely loved this book! I couldn't stop turning pages, absorbing the book like a drug. I love how a lot of it was about being perfect and wanted in ballet, and the story takes many unsuspected turns. I thought that Roderick and Georgia's relationship was going to be different, however, focusing more on the taboo and less on the "a man is always a man" theory. I actually thought it was going to be a taboo love story ending in tragedy, and while that had disappointed me, the book itself was...more
Jocelyn
First, I want to say that Georgia is probably one of the stupidest protagonist I've ever read. She is thicker than bricks and denser than the water pressure in the Mariana Trench. Besides being completely air-headed, I'm so displeased with how she acts and reacts. While I don't doubt that her emotions do seem kind of realistic given someone just coming into puberty and realizing that they and others are sexual beings, but come on! She purposefully reads more into Roderick's actions than there ev...more
Ailurophile
I picked this young adult title up hoping for some light weekend reading about a dance academy. Instead, I found a heavy book about dance, yes, but also about sexual awakening, the breakdown and dysfunction of family units, lying (or at least truth that is evasive and unclear), and the ugliness of mental illness. I'm not sure, based on other reviews, that Schabas intended the last—it's quite obvious that if she did, most readers did not get it—but for me mental illness and its consequences domin...more
Angela
Apr 30, 2011 Angela rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Angela by: First Reads giveaway
When I first started this book I thought it was going to be a disaster. There's a line right near the beginning (which I'm not going to quote because I read an uncorrected proof, so it might change in the final version), that just sounded really awkward and not at all what the 14-year old narrator would say.

Well, I was happy to find that that line is an anomaly - overall this book is very well written. And the story is compelling - I quickly got pulled into Georgia's life as a ballet student, wh...more
Lacey Louwagie
Based on the reviews I read of this book, I thought it might be too "controversial" to order for my library, but it intrigued me nonetheless. Specifically, reviewers referred to its main character and narrator, Georgia, as being "obsessed" with sex. We see a lot of teen books where boys being obsessed with sex is hardly mentioned in the review, or if so, it's given a wink-and-nod approval for its "realism." After having read this book, I didn't feel that Georgia was any more "obsessed" with sex...more
Loraine
Right from the start this book drew me in. The author made me feel deeply Georgia’s love of ballet and how dancing was her refuge. Then she took me on this wild ride of emotions right along with Georgia as I came to feel all the angst of a 14 year old, not much more than a child, as she tries to make sense of a world that throws her all kinds of mixed messages. I was not at all surprised that she would get it wrong.
I think that this book is very beautiful and also very brave. It shows the insid...more
Joel Fishbane
Being a former theatre school brat, I couldn't help but be drawn to this affecting first novel by Martha Schabas, a work that deals with adolescence, broken homes and the fact that when you're dealing with the artistic world, the "rules do not apply". This, at least, is the conclusion reached by Georgia Slade, Ms. Schabas' engrossing main character, who is accepted to the Royal Toronto Ballet Academy and promptly begins both an artistic and sexual awakening. A bit of Black Swan meets Fame, Vario...more
Wisteriouswoman
The author does a great job writing about this subject. Going into womanhood has so many challenges especially in the sexualized world that we live in.

I actually could relate to how Georgia fantasizes about uncovering her sexual identity but is clueless about how this happens naturally when you are more mature. I posed nude for a photographer friend as a teen and I was naïve about what kind of situation I was getting into and what the consequences might be. What happens in your imagination and...more
Rekha
There were things I really appreciated about this one-- the way it dealt with 14-year-old Georgia's confusion about sexuality, control, power, and men was pretty intense and interesting. I found her motivations really unclear and confusing, but maybe that was part of the point. I also wished that there would have been even a small hint about Georgia's own desires. She seemed to not have any sexuality of her own, even though her actions become more and more sexualized. Again, maybe that was part...more
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Various Positions was named one of the “Best Books of 2011” by Quill & Quire, among the “Best First Fiction of 2011” by The Globe and Mail, and “The Year’s Best Debut” by NOW magazine. It was shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award. Martha’s articles, book reviews and fiction have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The New Quarterly, ELLE Canada, Broken Pencil, and Maiso...more
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