Thursday, April 19, 2012

Various Positions

Various Positions by Martha Schabas
3.5/5 stars
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012
325 pages
YA; Contemporary

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

I approached this book with trepidation, having read a few reviews where people expected maybe a "Center Stage"-esque ballet story and instead received a fourteen-year old girl who spends a lot of time thinking and talking about sex. I requested this book expecting a dishy ballet story myself and wasn't sure I would be interested in what the author presented.

But I found myself fascinated with young Georgia even as I was horrified with the decisions she made. She is only fourteen and deeply entrenched in the world of ballet at an elite academy.  Over the course of the semester, she starts thinking she is seeing signs of sexual overtures from her much older male teacher and Georgia acts on those, exploring a new and exciting world for her. But those actions are not without serious repercussions as the people who care about Georgia do not remain uninvolved.

This book made me think a little of "Black Swan," another twisty ballet story that left me uncomfortable. Georgia is just so young and I could not understand how she made the assumptions she did. The teacher actually seemed to act appropriately in my reading but Georgia read deeply between the lines to come to a vastly different conclusion.

But the real standout is the writing, which is the main reason I continued to read. Schabas is obviously very talented and knows her way around words to create vivid pictures and emotions for the reader.  Admittedly most of those were unpleasant for me: a student's anorexia, adultery and emotional manipulation, messed-up ideas about romantic relationships.  This is intense stuff! But there are also many images of beauty revolving around the ballet. There is still a little part of me that kind of wants to be a prima ballerina and I greatly admire the athleticism and grace required to excel. Despite my lack of knowledge, I can still envision many of the ways the dancers moved.

Beyond the world of dance, there were a lot of issues relating to Georgia's home life. I would have liked a bit more in that regard as her parents were sketchily defined for me. Questions still remain and sadly Georgia has a breach with the family member she was closest to.  There are no easy answers or fast solutions in this contemporary novel.

Overall: Definitely not for everyone-I would not feel right offering a blanket recommendation. I feel like this is a book where the reader will benefit from doing some research on reviews beforehand in order to be prepared for what will come.

Cover: I really do like the black against the white; it's a stark cover unlike the busyness of other YA books since this one is very different.


  1. I'm not sure if this one is for me, but I am curious about it. I love the cover of this one.

  2. I still haven't seen Black Swan! My cousin recommended it to me when it came out last year, but my friend said it was one of the most twisted movies she's ever seen haha... x) I'm both intrigued and curious about this book because of that! It doesn't sound like your typical ballet book, but the writing sounds beautiful and the story sounds intense, which are two things I always love in books I read!

    Beautiful honest review, B! I'll definitely be looking into this book a bit more :) Thanks so much for the helpful tip! <3

  3. I can't wait to read this one - I think it looks super neat.

  4. Thanks for review, I think I wanna pick this one up now.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for the suggestion to read up on the book before deciding to pick it up. I think I'm going to skip this one though I wanted to be a ballerina when I was little :) Somehow I doubt I'd be able to stand reading about Georgia. Maybe if the author writes a book with a more likeable character, I'll give it a try based on your description of her writing style.

  6. This book looks really good and this is the first review I have read on it. Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. I love your new blog design!


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