Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Published by ABRAMS Kids on May 2 2017
Genres: contemporary, young adult
A cappella just got a makeover.
Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.
In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.
Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.
I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Noteworthy is an extremely entertaining, humorous book with lots of OMG moments, diversity and exploration of important topics. It’s a book about self-discovery, social norms and breaking barriers. Once you pick up Noteworthy, trust me that you won’t be able to put it down!
The premise of Noteworthy is undeniably amusing, a Chinese-American student who decides to disguise herself as a boy so she can gain entry into the all boys a cappella group. There were so countless moments in which Jordan was on the brink of revealing her true self that I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, watching her try to pull off this incredible feat! Not only was it absolutely hilarious but we get to witness Jordan’s self-discovery process throughout all this experience. Cross dressing as a boy opens up Jordan’s mind and she starts questioning things, namely her sexuality, gender identity and thoughts on gender roles and stereotypes. It was refreshing seeing Jordan undergo this exploration of herself as she breaks down boundaries.
There are a plethora of relevant topics that are delved into within this book such as femininity, masculinity, sexuality and gender roles. Alongside this there is great representation with a diverse cast of characters including characters that are Chinese, Indian, Sikh, disabled, dyslexic, transgender and LGBTQ+. There are characters in this book from all walks of life, including those who are wealthy and those who are struggling financially. And what I loved most was that all this diversity was normalised in this book, there was little to no discrimination toward others and everyone was so loving and accepting.
Speaking of which, I found the characters incredible! I absolutely adored all the boys in the Sharpshooters a cappella group, they were all so quirky and unique, but ultimately they really looked out for each other. They weren’t those cocky, self-centred typical teenage boys, they had depth and loveable personalities. There was a romance but it wasn’t the main focus of this book, I’m not going to say who Jordan ends up with because I feel like that would spoil the book, but I will say that I enjoyed the romance, it was both cute and heartfelt.
Noteworthy is not only a book about Jordan’s experience of obtaining a male persona and her time being a member of the Sharpshooters. It was largely about the discovery of ones self, the breaking down of barriers and rethinking social norms. If anything this book will give you a positive outlook toward diversity and will make you reconsider what you thought of society’s social standards.
*Quotes have been pulled from arc and are subject to change*
“It was impossible to feel alone in a room full of favorite books. I had the sense that they knew me personally, that they’d read me cover to cover as I’d read them.”
“I hadn’t given it serious thought, how my act (cross dressing) contrasted with the way some trans kids lived their lives. I was just playing a role, and trans people weren’t, so it hadn’t felt relevant, hadn’t felt like it was in the same ballpark. But it had weird echoes, didn’t it?”
“It wasn’t enlightenment to live like you had no history and no consequences. The world wasn’t just made out of instants – it was made out of plans, too, and the ability to learn from your mistakes.”
“A hint of confusion awake. What did it say that I’d gotten so addicted to my male disguise? If girlhood felt frustrating and boyhood felt freeing, did that say more about girlhood, boyhood, or me? I’d never questioned being a girl until now… But the longer I thought about the possibility that I might not be a girl, the more I became sure that I was one. I knew it innately. The struggle to fit into some narrow window of femininity didn’t exclude me from the club. At the same time, even just pretending to be a guy was changing me. It was letting me access parts of me I’d pushed back, and parts I didn’t know I’d had, and I wanted that version of me. I liked her better. She was new, she was interesting. She felt in charge. My old self was losing traction, and as she fell further behind, I realized I didn’t particularly miss her.”
“No, the point of rivalry is not to ruin each other’s lives. It’s an incentive to make everyone better.”
“Every person I knew was such a work of art. Beauty was beauty and want was want and a beating heart was a beating heart. I was drink and my synapses were firing in sluggish delirium and everything was absolutely stupid and utterly profound.”
“I stepped into the skin of a perfected average boy, and with it came the string of self-assurance.”
“All I understood about sexuality was its uncertainty, discovering your way through yourself day by day, stepping tentatively, hitting on some term that seemed to fit and hoping it stuck.”
“kindness has no gender, had no race or age or category.”
“Maybe there was no right answer to being born filthy rich, like there was no right answer to being born dirt poor. Maybe everyone was just looking for reasons to think everyone else was ungrateful.”
“Love was a sea of red ink, and once you folded under the waves, there was no solvent that could scrub it out of your skin. You could only wait to discover what you were when you wandered out of the shallows: something rose, or crimson, or carnelian.”
“I mean, we’re so comically, laughably tiny. You know? The universe is expanding forever, and there are nebulas and a hundred billion miles away, like, spectacularly shitting out of stars, and suns collapsing every twenty seconds, and essentially what I’m trying to say is that we’re the tiniest speck of dust on an infinite space plain and our lives are these insignificant little minuscule pinpricks on the timeline.”
“Time was the rope that hung into the pit of heartbreak and I’d finally climbed over its lip. I had no desire to look back over the edge. Some things are made to end. Storms, and winters, and hurts.”
Have you heard of or read Noteworthy? If so, what did you think about it? Do you want to read this book after reading my review?