Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Various Positions ~ Martha Schabas (eARC) review

Various Positions
Farrar Straus Giroux
February 14, 2012
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon/or on Book Depository 

*review may contain some spoilers*

Georgia's whole life revolves around ballet. She dreams of being a professional ballerina - despite her father not supporting her ambition - and is thrilled when she receives an audition for the Royal Ballet Academy. Attending will mean no more awkward parties with the kids from her local school, no more games of spin the bottle she doesn't want to play, she'll be able to truly focus on ballet.

But when Georgia does get in, she finds herself surrounded by girls she does like, who can be her friends but who seem obsessed with boys and sex. Something she doesn't like to think about.

Dancing is her escape. A reprieve from her boy-crazy friends and her dysfunctional family - a father who's always at work and a mother who is 'emotional.'

At the Academy she becomes focused on being her instructor Roderick's perfect - and sexless - student. She will practice all of the time, show him how dedicated she is, and how she's not always thinking about sex like the other girls. Then he will see her as professional dancer material.


Things in Various Positions are not entirely as they are presented - or maybe just not as I perceived them to be presented. There is a lot in the novel about the female body and how it is sexualized and seen as a negative thing - both by women themselves and by others. I think that's a noble point to have, especially in a YA novel and one about ballet, too, but for me it didn't quite come across.

Georgia went from not being almost scared of anything sexual and her body in general - liking that it was so immature still and not womanly yet to being rather overly aware of both things. Almost constantly thinking about both her body and others' bodies. She was looking at a porn site on the internet, thinking about how people compared to the women there, etc.

I do think that this all tied in with her parents' relationship - both the basis of it and its current state - as well as how she was currently fairing at the ballet Academy, but I couldn't get into the story enough to connect it all. The change in Georgia as well as some of her actions were a little too extreme for me - as well as the (seeming) almost constant talk by her friends about sex - to really get into and enjoy Various Postions.

There is a great plot under the sexual stuff that was just too much for me. On the surface its just Georgia figuring out how to fit in at her new ballet school and get away from her screwy family, but it really looks at how girls' face a lot of pressure to be thin or sexy (or not sexy) in so many different ways - and the ballet world's a perfect place to set that.

My rating: 5/10 stars

read thanks to NetGalley and the publisher

Other reviews of Various Positions: at Lives to Read (4/5 stars) and at My 5 Monkeys (gave it a D)

Other Books You Might Like: Bunheads by Sophie Flack

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