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Various Positions

3.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,067 ratings  ·  224 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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Average rating 3.01  · 
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 ·  1,067 ratings  ·  224 reviews

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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
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
4.5 truly thought-provoking stars.
I couldn’t help but suspect that this was more than a coincidence. It was like Roderick knew what those girls were up to. They came into the studio, leotards snug on their bodies, and flaunted the sex that was taking over their insides. They had boobs, and you could tell they were proud of them, didn’t care who knew. Roderick hated it. It was an insult to ballet. It turned the line of an extended leg into something impure, made pervs out of everyone.

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 danc
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melanie McCullough
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
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
Samantha Mitchell
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
Karyn Silverman
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, z2013-reads
Brilliant, profoundly troubling, and mostly gorgeous.
Mar 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Authored by Martha Schabas, but narrated by the Juliet precocious and aged Georgia Slade, “Various Positions” tells the story of Georgia’s prodigal decent and redemptive return to the sanctuary, her chrysalis of ballet. And her telling style, which is as lean as she is, is as legible and as engaging as an Ivanov pas; and too, she so clearly marks the episodes and chapters of her story with the connectives of time that any member of her corps of readers can smoothly count her moves. And although, ...more
Joel Fishbane
May 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books
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
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
Lacey Louwagie
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jesylyn Batman
May 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 20, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Doriana Bisegna
Jun 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Sarah Beth
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First things first: this is an incredibly brave debut novel. Martha Schabas has my full backing for the shear courage to make such a controversial novel the first one on the market with her name attached. For that alone she earns my five stars.

This work is raw. This work is dirty. This work is real.

Perhaps what made this book stand out so much to me was the shear fact that Georgia is so flawed, yet we want to cheer her on. I'm reminded of a quote from Roxane Gay: "If people cannot be flawed in
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
Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog:

Various Positions is a tough book to classify. The main character is 14 but has some very adult thoughts when it comes to sex. She’s fantasizing about her dance teacher, watching porn on the internet, and buying lingerie in hopes of someone seeing it. It’s an interesting juxtaposition from the character we meet initially. Georgia is skittish when it comes to her friends talking about sex and kissing and then she secretly begins to obsess with th
May 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
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
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, canada
I enjoyed this book but it did remind me of the film The Black Swan.
I felt the start was a bit slow but towards the end I could not put it down.

The main character seemed like a shy wallflower type girl. Under pressure from a new ballet school and also some family troubles plus understanding her sexual frustrations.
I felt bad for her in the sense her mum was totally depressed and her dad emotionally absent. I wish the story of her mum and dad getting together was rounded off as I never learned w
Lucia Biondi
1) The author's direction for the main character was rather confusing and unclear as the story began to develop further. Martha Schabas introduces Georgia to be a girl devoted solely to the ballet world but external actions from Georgia's peers influence her thoughts about people and sex. She was on a dance road to greatness when her decisions and obsession with sexual thoughts ruin everything she worked so hard to accomplish. It is hard to believe that a girl whose life revolves around dance co ...more
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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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 Maisonneu ...more

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