Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Synopsis: Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.
Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?
Huge thank you to Simon Pulse and Edelweiss for this ARC!
This book wasn’t entirely on my radar at all, despite having heard good things about Hannah Moskowitz’s writing. It was actually seeing Courtney Summers’ tweets about the book that made me intrigued to check this book out. It’s a shame that this book doesn’t release until next year, but having now read it, I wish it would be coming sooner so you all can experience how thoughtful and smart this novel in.
Etta isn’t the most likeable protagonist, but I found her completely charming. Like the title states, she’s “Not Otherwise Specified” and has no place to truly call her own. She’s not butch enough for the lesbian clique (and is in fact, bullied by this group for hooking up with a dude), she’s not tiny enough to continue ballet with the same passion she once had, and she’s not sick enough to be anorexic. However, it’s meeting someone who is, in a lot of ways, her exact opposite, and that is what really gets the story moving.
I actually love both Etta and Bianca. I love Bianca because she is someone who means so well and yet she struggles with her own imperfections. Etta wears her imperfections loud and proud, yet she can’t seem to catch a break with anything in her life. Despite being snarky and sassy, Etta struggles in a lot of ways to love herself, and that really is the main connection the two girls have. It made me love their relationship throughout the story because even when they didn’t agree with one another, there was this air of understanding between them. I also love how the two girls are constantly teaching each other about friendship, privileges and hardship. It made for great characterization and strong story telling.
Also Natasha was horrid, but did not read like she was a one-dimensional kind of horrid. It’s interesting that she’s the lead bully and yet Etta always can get under her skin and strikes back. We need more of this in YA, the push back, the “I’m not afraid.” Why isn’t there more of this? Seriously, we need this so much in YA. We do, we do, we do.
There is an intense amount of richness in this story, and one I could go on about forever, but that would likely spoil this book. If you love wonderfully flawed protagonists and gritty contemporary, then this mustbe checked out when it releases next March. As for me? I now plan to check out more of Hannah Moskowitz’s books