Monday, December 3, 2012

Various Positions

Various Positions
Martha Schabas
ISBN: 978-0374380861
Francis Foster, 2012

Plot Summary: Fourteen-year-old Georgia’s life is falling apart. Her older half-sister is away at college, her father is hardly ever home, and her mother spends most of her days in bed depressed so she is happy when she lands a spot in the elite Toronto ballet academy and one of her teachers is the famous Roderick Allen. While trying to impress him, her classmates seem more interested in making fun of the quiet Chantal and chasing after boys. Soon Georgia’s wondering if there is a place for sex in ballet and she turns her attentions to Roderick for the answers. Soon her very dangerous actions lead to placing her career and future in jeopardy.

Critical Evaluation: Before reading this book, I recall the reviews of it were mixed. A number of reviews liked the book while the other half seemed to think that Georgia was a bit too mature for her age. I agree with both of them. It was a good book but the things that bugged me the most where the fact that Georgia was supposed to be 14 but her voice was much, much more mature and the fact that she was so sexually repressed. The bad reviews of the book also made it sound like something totally happened between her and Roderick when nothing actually did happen. Asides from that it is a good story about the pressures of ballet (the shy girl eventually suffers from an eating disorder) and clearly Georgia is a struggling character. I don’t think teens will relate to her much but I think they will find her compelling in the fact that she’s just so odd and because her voice seems off and she’s obsessed with her teacher she seems to have emotional problems which makes the reader want to find out how her story ends. It will be a hard sell though as it is definitely not for everyone.

Reader's Annotation:  Georgia gets accepted to an elite ballet school but faces such problems as a friend with an eating disorder, girls who care more about boys than ballet, and a potential romance with a professor.

Author Information: Martha Schabas trained in classical ballet as a child. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she received the David Higham Literary Award. She lives in Toronto, Canada. Various Positions is her first novel (Mcmillian, n.d.).

Genre: Realistic

Curriculum Ties:  N/A

Booktalking Ideas:  Read about the hardships of ballet training—try to sell it not based on the false teacher-student relationship.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  15+

Challenge Issues: The overt teacher/student relationship the book seems to be about (but really isn’t), sex, drinking, anorexia, verbal and emotional abuse

Challenge Defense:  If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:

·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
·        A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
·        Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
·        Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
·        Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at

Reason for Inclusion:  It is a well written narrative just with a odd character. It will be a hard sell but it does have readers. It is important for its frank portrayal of the sexual awakening in a young girl.


Macmillan. (n.d.). Martha Schabas. Retrieved from

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