Book Reviews

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

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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?

The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.

I really related to Etta on many levels. Definitely, that feeling of not enough this to fit here. Being in a community and out of it at the same time. It’s a rough place to be in. I really loved reading this story of Etta figuring out who she is, where she fits in, and really where she wants to fit in. It’s a long journey for her. Being able to move away from the people in your life that aren’t good for you and toward the people who will be.

I absolutely loved reading a book with a well-written bisexual main character.The biphobia she experiences in this book was so realistic. I’ve seen comments and attitudes like what you see in this book from people in the queer communities before. It’s so frustrating watching Etta go through it in the book and how she’s really used to it. She’s not even as angry about it as she could be.

Plus Etta is black. That’s awesome for me. I definitely need more QPOC in the books I read as a QPOC myself. I thought the class issues brought in were interesting. Etta and her family have more money than some other people. She can afford the really nice private school and all that.unlike James and Bianca.

I related to James a lot too in this. At one point in the book, I realized I was really invested in multiple characters and thought the book was going to leave me completely shattered. If it didn’t end well, for Etta, James, and Bianca I did not think I would handle it well. I came out of the book okay, though. I got emotional. I was invested when bad things happened,but overall I’m okay.

I also used to dance and totally understood Etta’s not feeling she fit in that world.Especially in ballet. I feel like things are changing there,but I don’t know how much and how fast. Then there’s the depiction of Etta’s  eating disorder and Bianca’s. It was done so well.I have/had an eating disorder and didn’t feel triggered by this like I have other books. I’m further along than I was a few years back ,but I honestly think this was because of how great Hannah Moskowitz. I still feel liked I’d be triggered by one YA book, in particular, dealing with eating disorders that I won’t name if I read it now. This one just worked.

I really appreciate what Moskowitz has done with this book. What she has told us with the story and these great characters. I definitely will look into more books by this author after having enjoyed this book so much.

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