Not Otherwise Specified
by Hannah Moskowitz
Original Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Obtained Via: Read for free as pulseit.com’s free read of the week.
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The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.
Not Otherwise Specified is such an engaging read! I knew the basics of this book before I started reading it, but I didn’t realize it was written in a very stream-of-conscious style. It’s not a style that works for everyone, and I think it might have annoyed me, except main character Etta is so fabulous. Not Otherwise Specified deals with some pretty tough stuff, but it doesn’t feel as heavy as you think it might, and it’s mostly due to Etta’s upbeat voice. She pirouettes off the page, seriously. Her character just sparkles, and not in a creepy vampire-way.
So, Not Otherwise Specified is actually pretty short, but there’s a lot going on in it. Through the novel, Etta deals with being pushed out by her friends for dating a guy, despite telling her friends previously that she’s bisexual. They all take it as some sort of personal offense, which of course just creates this really vicious cycle. Etta’s also in recovery from an eating disorder and is preoccupied with trying out for a music theater high school in New York because all Etta wants to do is get out of Nebraska.
There’s also the fact she recently quit ballet because, as the summary says, she’s not “tiny and white” enough, and she feels in some ways it was harmful to her eating disorder. It sounds like a lot–and it is–but it doesn’t feel that way in the story at all, it feels just like a slice of Etta’s life. That’s what kind of book Not Otherwise Specified is. There’s a narrative, but it’s not as strong as it is in plot-driven books. It’s not exactly a character exploration, but it’s close. And I loved every minute of it.
2015 has been a really awesome year for new releases as I can see so far, and Not Otherwise Specified totally lived up to my expectations and then some. It’s kind of surprising, as wonderful as Etta is, but I often thought I loved the side characters just as much in this book. Everyone feels so real and a little bruised around the edges, as most people are. I also loved the way Etta and Bianca played against each other in terms of how they saw the world around them. Bianca is religious, and when her brother is forced out of the college, it’s hard for her, but it never delves into a black-and-white “sexuality and religion are always at odds!”, which I found incredibly refreshing.
I feel like I’m rambling all over the place in this review(and it’s a shorter one), so I’ll wrap it up, but I’ll just say that Not Otherwise Specified was amazing and pretty much flawless.
Really loved this one! I thought I’d like it, but I had no idea how much. It’s one of those books that contains a lot within a few pages and does it all so gracefully. 5/5 cupcakes.