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.
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Shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association’s 2012 Evergreen Award
Quill & Quire - "Best Books of 2011"
The Globe and Mail - "Best First Fictions of 2011"
"The year's best debut."
“Schabas's dialogue is often extraordinarily expressive, compressed to a tight code for swirling inner worlds. . . . This is a wonderful, courageous debut.”
—The Globe and Mail
“A thought-provoking look at femininity and sex, made all the more confusing by that ultimate contact sport—ballet.”
“Schabas skillfully weaves themes of power, communication, trust, intimacy, and betrayal through this character-driven tale, as 14-year-old ballet dancer Georgia struggles to find a place where she belongs and people she can trust.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“…Various Positions is a provocative, dark, and challenging read, which provides a fresh take on difficult questions about human nature in our contemporary world.”
—Quill & Quire
“Martha Schabas is clearly a natural with long-form fiction. . . .The sign of a truly good novel is one where your personal interest in whatever topic or milieu (in this case, The Royal Toronto Ballet Academy) doesn’t matter. It is a good story told in an original way, and if it were about monster trucks, another thing I’m less than enthused about, I would still be intrigued because Schabas writes so well. . . . Schabas is a writer in full control of her craft, and her debut book is a worth and important addition to this seasons list.”
—Zoe Whittall, National Post
“[A] read-in-one-gulp debut.”
—The Toronto Star
“Beautifully descriptive and disturbing. . . .Schabas’s prose is engaging and provocative, full of images and ideas that dance through the mind.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“A highly realistic, totally gut-wrenching portrayal of teenage awkwardness and acting out. Those unflattering realities make for a compelling contrast with the flawless, fragile elegance of the ballet.”
“Rarely does a debut novel nail its subject with such precision, but Martha Schabas has taken the confusion of teenage girls and the world of ballet to create a stunning novel. . . . Various Positions is amazing. Its insight into the world of girls, ballet, and lame parents is pitch perfect. Ballet fans will appreciate the candour of this novel, but its appeal is much broader than that audience. Various Positions is an outstanding novel, full of wisdom and language that dances across the page.”
—The Vancouver Sun