Various Positions, Martha Schabas
5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: 2/14/2012, Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Why I Chose It: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) from the publisher in exchange for a thoughtful and honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Trapped between the hormone-driven world of her friends and the discontent of her dysfunctional family, fourteen-year-old Georgia is only completely at ease when she's dancing. When she is accepted into Canada's preeminent ballet school, Georgia thinks it is the perfect escape. Artistic Director Roderick Allen singles her out as a star, subjecting her to increasingly intensive training, and Georgia obsesses about becoming the perfect, disciplined student.
But as she spends more and more time with Roderick, it's not so clear exactly what their relationship means. Is he her teacher and mentor, or is there something more? These blurred lines will threaten both Roderick's future at the academy and Georgia's ambitions as a ballerina.
My Review: 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 with so much tension, it was at times almost unbearable. Her characterization is flawless. With Various Positions, she has created individuals as real as any living, breathing person I've ever met. I couldn't help but care deeply for each one of them. Especially Georgia. Poor Georgia whose life has revolved so fully around ballet and navigating her dysfunctional family that she's nowhere near as mature as the other kids her age.
And with no one to turn to except a sister who is away at college, a depressed and self-involved mother, and an emotionally unavailable father, it's no wonder the instant she receives positive attention she's confused. Add to this mixed messages she receives from her sex-obsessed classmates and her own mother and she begins to fantasize that the attention means more than it does. She begins to obsess about Roderick. To over-analyze every action. To see in them more than there is.
I will warn you that there is a fair amount of language and sexual innuendo, but it is a fundamental element of the plot, woven throughout the fabric of the story, holding it together. There is nothing gratuitous or disturbing about it. It merely exists, as essential to Georgia's story as her love of ballet. I mention it only as a caution to those who shy away from this type of subject matter.
In the end my love affair with Macmillan and its imprints continues. I definitely NEED a finished copy of this for my bookshelf and you should grab one for yours as well. This is a novel not to be missed. One of those stories that will get under your skin (in a good way), evoking so much passion from its readers that I honestly believe you're either going to love it or hate it.