Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Review by Lauren
source: copy from library; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: 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; 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 might be Etta’s salvation…but can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?
Review: This book just screams diversity! Etta is a lesbian, until she ends up dating a guy. She's bi-racial and she loves to do ballet, but she doesn't have a ballet dancer's body. Added to this, Etta has ED-NOS, which is Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified. So yes, that's Etta.
She's having a tough time dealing with her hometown in Nebraska. Her ex-girlfriend is now in NYC and Etta is desperate to find herself there after her own graduation. It's not so much about the dance schools or the arts; she just wants out. She's been kicked out of the Dykes, a group of lesbians who all hang out in 70s clothes and obviously date girls. Etta doesn't care about most of them, but the group includes her best friend, and she misses her.
However, Etta is in therapy for her eating disorder and there, she meets Bianca, who is obviously sick. She's so tiny, but she has the biggest voice. Etta becomes closer to Bianca and her brother, James, as well as James' friend. This new, quirky group work together. They all have their "issues" and battles to face, but they also put a lot of time and energy into auditioning for a big arts school in New York. You desperately want all of them to make it, but you also know it would be shocking for even one of them to get through.
As we follow Etta's point of view, it's easy to want her to make it to NYC. You want her to find a new life away from Nebraska where she can be fabulously her. She doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere, but that's also a beautiful thing. She's uniquely herself and she ultimately realizes that that's okay. She can be Not Otherwise Specified and still shine!