By: Celine | February 17, 2015 | (50) Comments

Review: Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah MoskowitzNot Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: March 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, GLBT, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

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 anywhereβ€” 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.

If you’re looking for a diverse book, look no further. Not Otherwise Specified is the picture of diversity, including a black bisexual main character, gay side characters, an asian, lesbian former best friend, religious side characters, and eating disorders.

Etta, our main character, feels like she doesn’t really belong anywhere. Due to a recent relationship with a boy, her former group of lesbian friends has cast her out. She once was bulimic, but is well on the way to recovery, in contrast to some of the members of her guidance group. She loves ballet, but doesn’t look like a ballerina: she’s too chubby, too black (unfortunately, most ballerinas are very much white), too much curves where there should be straight lines.

Throughout the book, though, she starts finding her place in the world. She learns who are true friends and where her passions lie, and that she can excel at certain things. Moskowitz subtly let Etta grow into a more grown-up version of herself. Though I immensely loved that growth, Etta had my heart from the start. She tells it like it is: she’s straightforward and not ashamed of anything. She’s tough, but not perfect: sometimes she makes mistakes, sometimes she doubts herself, sometimes she falls back into not very healthy habits. She was just such a real person.

Moskowitz also shows the struggles of being “different” from the norm. Basically, everyone who isn’t a straight white male faces a struggle, some more often that others.

If I end up marrying a guy, what the hell queer community is ever going to want me?

Etta has doubts, she struggles with herself and the world sometimes. Not Otherwise Specified is really about problems and learning to face them, to handle them. It’s about finding out what you really want in life and pursuing that dream until it becomes reality. It’s about acceptance, both of yourself and others. And above all, it was just really, really good.

The focus with Etta’s difficulties lies mainly with her sexuality (and figuring out what she wants). However, there’s also a large focus on eating disorders. Etta herself has more or less recovered from her bulimia, but her newfound friend Bianca isn’t nearly there yet when it comes to her anorexia. I thought it was handled really well, and I loved how Moskowitz focused on recovery and hope, though it never got unbelievably sappy and sunshine-y. There were ups and downs, but the final message is one of hope, and I loved that.

In all: highly recommended. Not Otherwise Specified is another gem by Hannah Moskowitz. It was written really well, with believable characters, problems many people will be able to relate to, and a whole lot of diversity.

~Thank you Simon & Schuster for the review copy!~

4 Stars
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Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

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50 Responses to Review: Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

  1. Brit says:

    This sounds fantastic – so diverse and wide ranging in characters! I feel like this is a book I could learn a lot from. Definitely interested in reading this one, especially as Etta sounds like such a great character.
    Brit recently posted…The Two Of UsMy Profile

  2. Wow there are definitely many diverse concepts here, and the book is packed full of it! Including sexual orientation and eating disorders, it would make for an interesting read. Great review!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Contemporary YA Reviews #5: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart & A Small Madness by Diane TouchellMy Profile

  3. Wow! This sounds like it’s very diverse and has some great themes to it. I’ve never read anything by the author before, but I’m curious and want to try something by her for sure. I might try with this one first.
    Lovely review, Celine!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : The Storyspinner by Becky WallaceMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      It is and it does! I really hope you’ll pick it up and love it πŸ™‚ I’ve only read one other book by Moskowitz (Teeth) but I also really loved that one. Thanks, Nick! <33

  4. I’ve loved Moskowitz’s novels and writing and I’m sure this will be no exception. I really feel like the YA genre is lacking in the diversity outlined in this novel so I’m glad to see these subjects being touched upon at last. Wonderful review, Celine–bumping this waaay up my TBR. πŸ™‚
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: Going Rogue by Robin BenwayMy Profile

  5. IDK… I hated her last book, Teeth. I don’t know if I can read her again. Glad that you enjoyed this one.
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Tell Me Something Tuesday #90: How Do You Keep Blogging Exciting?My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that! I personally really liked Teeth, but let me tell you that NOS is very VERY different from Teeth. It doesn’t have any of the magical realism – it’s in fact very much grounded in reality, and just very different overall.
      Thanks πŸ™‚

  6. Amber Elise says:

    This sounds like the KING of all diverse books! I can’t wait to experience Etta’s growth, she seems like my kind of girl. And even though you say she grows throughout the novel, she sounds like she’s got it all together from the start.
    Amber Elise recently posted…[Meme]Teaser Tuesday [#58]My Profile

    • Celine says:

      YES! It’s super diverse and I love it. And I really liked Etta! I don’t think she has it all together but she’s fabulous either way.

  7. Alreem says:

    So happy to see you loving this book. I can’t wait to read it πŸ˜€
    Alreem recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (15)My Profile

  8. Maddy E says:

    This sounds like and amazing book. It reminds me of Pointe by Brandy Colbert, if only in that it has a black ballerina with an eating disorder. I’m hoping this books is just as beautiful. I haven’t read any other books by Hannah Moskowitz, so I think this will be a good place to start.
    Maddy E recently posted…Hard Copy vs. eBookMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Ooh, I haven’t read that one though I remember being interested in it πŸ™‚ I’ll check that one out. I really hope you’ll like this one!

  9. Ohhh, that sounds like a huge bucketful of diverse awesome. YAY. I need to find this book asap.
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Yes, I Have #bookwormproblemsMy Profile

  10. Lexa Cain says:

    I love that Hannah’s never afraid to tackle the hard and/or unpopular subjects. She rocks! Thanks so much for the review. πŸ™‚
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Celebrate: Valentines & FreebiesMy Profile

  11. Benish says:

    Wow, the premise though – sounds like a lot of concepts into one novel, now that’s something different πŸ™‚ I’m glad you liked it though, Lovely review Mel <3
    Benish recently posted…I Was Here β™₯ Gayle Forman | ReviewMy Profile

  12. Kezia says:

    I’m gonna read this book on the weekend so I cannot read your full review but it’s nice to see that you gave it a good rating!! <33
    Kezia recently posted…Baaaaaa~ Welcoming the Year of the GoatMy Profile

  13. Maisha says:

    This book sounds so diverse! I so want to read this now! It seems like it’s a book that I could definitely learn a lot from. Great review, Celine! I’m glad you enjoyed this book πŸ™‚
    Maisha recently posted…Discussion ~ Choosing What to Read NextMy Profile

  14. Lily says:

    How is this one not getting more hype? I love all the diversity this one seems to have and that it touches on so many important subjects! Lovely review!
    Lily recently posted…The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2):ReviewMy Profile

  15. This book sounds like it has a really good message. Labels are the worst and it sucks how much influence they have come to have in our society, especially in high school and stuff. Trying to figure out where you fit in is definitely something I’ve always struggled with, and I’m just your average, shy, white girl with minimal problems really. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this book!

    Great review πŸ™‚

    • Celine says:

      It does! That’s exactly what this is about – not letting the labels define you, but deciding for yourself who you want to be πŸ™‚ And I’m with you! Even though I am also an average shy white girl, haha.

      Thanks <33

  16. Melanie says:

    Why don’t more people know this book? It seems to be truly diverse and now I really wanna give this a shot! This author actually sounds pretty familiar–I must go to the GR and check out why!

    Excellent review, Celine <33

  17. Oh, Hannah Moskowitz. Her books are so beautiful, I’m really not surprised you ended liking this one, Celine. I love her writing so much, and till date she is one of the strongest voices I’ve ever come across. Beautiful review for a beautiful book πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to read this.
    Madiha@Symphony of Words recently posted…Time is a BitchMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      I agree with you! Moskowitz is just an amazing writer. And yes on the voice – each of her novels is just so distinct and loud and recognizable.

      Thanks, Madiha! <33

  18. Missie says:

    This one is new to me, but I like how diverse it is. I will have to add it to my TBR
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings
    Missie recently posted…Review of The 5th WaveMy Profile

  19. Riya says:

    WOW diversity, indeed! This seems so interesting and I love the sound of the main character and her entourage of supporting characters – so different from anything I’ve read! Glad you liked this one so much, wonderful review! x
    Riya recently posted…Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly BlackMy Profile

  20. Yay. Okay, so I read a couple not so fantastic reviews, but your review makes this book sound great! I’m definitely going to give it ago. Great review. I’m glad the main character easily won you over and I love characters that tell it like it is and don’t sugarcoat it. There is a ridiculously great amount of diversity so I just need it.
    Amber @ YA Indulgences recently posted…When Writer’s Block Strikes (Amber’s Rambles #15)My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Ooh! Glad you’re going to give this a try. Hope you like it!
      And that’s exactly what the MC’s like – she tells it like it is. And the diversity is simply amazing.

  21. I never would have thought this book would interest me based on the cover. But wow! It tackles so many important themes that YA almost never does. I’m so impressed they were all done so well! I’m definitely adding this to my to-read list! Awesome review, Celine!
    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms recently posted…Do Book Titles Turn You Off?My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Haha! Though I love they showed a POC on the cover, I agree with you on that – not my favouritr cover ever πŸ™‚ But yes, what’s inside is amazing and diverse.
      Thanks Marianne! <33

  22. Kirsty-Marie says:

    Holy diversity, not just a diverse character thrown into the cast to make it diverse, which is usually the stereotypical gay secondary character. That’s more like it, Not Otherwise Specified, I like you already. She’s flawed, but she doesn’t sound like she needs much growth anyway, but yay that she becomes a stronger version of herself. I usually stray away from books about eating disorders/self-harm, but it sounds like it’s handled well, and focused more on the getting through it, rather than the downfall. πŸ™‚

    • Celine says:

      YES. Usually ‘diversity’ is just throwing in a gay best friend, but Not Otherwise Specified takes it so much further. Like, finally, an ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF THE WORLD. And it’s definitely focused on getting through it! Etta, the MC, is in fact almost ‘cured’ so it’s definitely not about the downfall πŸ™‚

  23. Oh, man. You’re right! When it comes to diversity, this book is really full of them, which makes it really more exciting because there are so many factors from different cultures and different backgrounds that we haven’t seen been mixed in a particular situation before. Would love to read this one and your enthusiasm and positive feedback makes me really excited for it! Woohoo!!
    Faye le Potato recently posted…Review: Queen of the Tearling by Erika JohansenMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yayy! So glad to hear that! It always makes my heart sing when my ramblings about a book can make other people excited for it πŸ˜€ I really hope you’ll love this if you end up reading it, and you should definitely tell me what you thought!!

  24. I’ve never heard of this one before but wow, the diversity in this one makes me have happy feels already! I wanna give this one a go when it comes out for sure. It’s so great that there are more diverse books coming out each year.

    Nice review, Celine πŸ™‚

  25. I’ve read Hannah Moskowitz’s Gone, Gone, Gone and I enjoyed it. She really puts diversity in the forefront of her books and I think we need more authors like her. Awesome review, Celine. πŸ™‚
    Joy @ The Bookshelf Intruder recently posted…When I’m Not Reading #1: The Joy of Obsessing Over K-DramasMy Profile

  26. Pingback: Not Otherwise Specified | Queer Young Adult Literature

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