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Various Positions by Martha Schabas

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
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. Fortunately, she's an unusually talented and promising dancer. When she is accepted into the notoriously exclusive Royal Ballet Academy--Canada's preeminent dance school--Georgia thinks she has made the perfect escape. In ballet, she finds the exhilarating control and power she lacks elsewhere in her life: physical, emotional and, increasingly, sexual.

This dynamic is nowhere more obvious than in Georgia's relationship with Artistic Director Roderick Allen. As Roderick singles her out as a star and subjects her to increasingly vicious training, Georgia obsesses about becoming his perfect student, disciplined and sexless. But a disturbing incident with a stranger on the subway, coupled with her dawning recognition of the truth of her parents' unhappy marriage, causes her to radically reassess her ideas about physical boundaries--a reassessment that threatens both Roderick's future at the academy and Georgia's ambitions as a ballerina.

Goodreads Summary

Georgia is definitely not a character the reader will connect to or even like right away.  The author took a risk in this book and the risk paid off.  The reader doesn't need to like the main character to like the concept behind this book.  Georgia's friends are very focused on the romantic side of life and her ballet consumes the majority of her time.  When a handsome new director seems to pay her a lot of attention, the reader can rationalize that to a young woman whose whole life revolves around ballet, she might think he reciprocates her crush. 

The author clearly has prior knowledge with regards to the life of an aspiring ballerina.  The ballet school is harsh on its students, pointing out anything from their weight to an incorrect form.  Georgia over-dramatizes everything, but the reader will likely be able to relate to that fourteen year-old drama.  The other characters were not very easy to connect to either, the reader will feel more as if he/she is looking in on the story than experiencing it.  However, the plot is one that is common in schools-male teachers often catch the attention of teens-but still unique with the added ballet aspect.  Young adult/teen readers will appreciate this book and stand a good chance of understanding Georgia's trials and drama.

4 Stars

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  1. Sounds like a very interesting book. I added it to my wishlist.