Hilary's Reviews > Various Positions

Various Positions by Martha Schabas
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's review
May 02, 2012

bookshelves: contemporary, tri-review
Read in April, 2012

****This review contains spoilers!****
****This book was provided to the reviewer to be reviewed for a teen book review group. ****

Martha Schabas’ debut novel takes readers behind the scenes of professional ballet. The characters are authentic; Schabas’ early training in classical dance serves her well here. The novel is well-written. However, this is an adult novel with mature sexual themes and offers little detail about dancing technique.

Georgia is an unusually talented and promising young dancer. At the age of fourteen, the shy teen escapes from the confusing youth culture that seems obsessed with exploring sexuality and the dysfunctional chaos that is her family, into dancing, the only aspect of her life where she feels in control. When Georgia is accepted into the elite Royal Ballet Academy (Canada’s preeminent dance school) Georgia thinks she has found the loophole that will let her lead her own life, free of emotional entanglement.

Training at the Academy is demanding, even brutal. Artistic Director Roderick Allen singles Georgia out, which results in even more viciousness. Georgia obsessively strives to be the perfect disciplined, sexless student, but when she suddenly drops her boundaries to intimacy, both Roderick’s and Georgia’s futures are threatened.

This book contains adult themes and situations. Readers looking for a book similar to “Bunheads” by Sophie Flack will not find it here. For example, Georgia watches porn in her bedroom and then takes nude photographs of herself and there is also a sex scene that involves a clumsy loss of virginity after swigging beer. The focus is on Georgia’s fantasies regarding Roderick; as she obsesses over every action until she sees more in their relationship than there is. Although professional dance requires dancers to mature at a young age -- the physical rigors and demands of dance are not for any but the most physically fit youth -- it takes young people much longer to achieve emotional maturity than it does to reach physical perfection. Some readers may be offended and/or disturbed by Georgia’s Spring-Winter desires while others may deem it part of dance/contemporary culture. In either case, the outcome of Georgia’s perceived relationship is destructive and unhealthy.

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