Friday, February 2, 2018

Review: Noteworthy

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Publisher: Abrams Books
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 1/27/18 to 1/28/18
400 pages


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 received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I'm about, oh a little less than a year late with this review. But guess what? I finally read Noteworthy! I don't know why I have been hesitating this whole time, because it completely met all my expectations, and even went beyond them. Past Val was right to anticipate this book all that time ago.

Noteworthy opens with Jordan Sun, who attends a rich private school, Kensington-Blaine, for theatre. After being rejected for a role again due to her low Alto 2 voice, she desperately needs something that makes her unique to colleges. Cue a capella groups. More specifically, an all-boys a capella group called the Sharpshooters. ANYTHING FOR COLLEGE, RIGHT???

This was honestly, a delightful yet thought-provoking read that tied in socioeconomic, racial, sexual, and gender diversity. THIS BOOK HAS IT ALL. For one, even though we experience the shenanigans that Jordan goes through to stay on the Sharpshooters (which includes cross-dressing, deception, and cutting off all her hair), the book touches on a lot, and I mean a lot of issues, which include:

  • How Jordan's cross-dressing affects the image of transgender students at Kensington.
  • The delicate subject of how Jordan's sexuality can be misconstrued because she is lying about her gender
  • Jordan's socioeconomic status relative to all of her classmates
  • The fact that Jordan is Chinese-American
  • And of course, gender norms, and that Jordan's voice just isn't "feminine" enough (ugh)

There was this one scene that mentioned how all-female a cappella groups, no matter how open or funny they were, would never get as much attention as the all-male ones. Even in my own high school was the male a cappella group much more popular, and I always thought that the all-female one should be less stiff and more like their male counterparts. But now looking back, it probably wouldn't matter what they would have done, the male a cappella group would have always been more popular. (This is why the movie Pitch Perfect makes me so happy haha)

Plus, I really enjoyed the characters and the relationships between Jordan (or her male name, Julian) with all of the Sharpshooters. This book is honestly a mash-up between Ouran High School Host Club (except without everyone being in love with the protagonist) and Pitch Perfect, which just makes an awesome combination. I just don't think I can recommend this enough. I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO SAY BUT READ NOTEWORTHY!