Etta is tired of dealing with all 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?
What I thought
Oh my goodness–I LOVED this book. I truly think that Etta has worked her way into my heart–she has definitely made her way onto my list of all-time favorite characters.
More than anything else about this book, I loved Etta’s story. She was so real & flawed & genuine. I can’t speak for how well her story represents black bisexual teenage girls, but as for her “not otherwise specified” eating disorder…it was spot on. Without getting into too much personal detail, let me simply say this: there were a few times I had to put this book down so that I could weep because here Etta was, putting into words some of my own thoughts & feelings that, at one time, I wasn’t even aware I was having.
That’s not to say that this is one of those “sad” books, but rather that it’s just a book that has a lot of feeling. I laughed with Etta, cried with Etta, commiserated with Etta, became annoyed with Etta, and ultimately, cheered for Etta. Being a teenager is hard & it’s confusing, and Etta’s story perfectly encapsulated that. Her voice was so strong & unique (& SO Etta), that it really is hard to imagine her as a fictional character.
This book is so underrated, it’s unfair. This has become one of my favorite reads of 2017. If you’re looking for a diverse book that shows how rough being a teenager can be, this is your book. And more importantly, if you are looking for a genuine story about a girl who decides to defy the labels that are trying to box her in, you have to give this book a try.