book review

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

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Release Date: May 02, 2017

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped … 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.

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*Thank you Amulet Books and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The one thing that made me want to read Noteworthy was because of the Pitch Perfect vibe that it has. I’m not a big fan of the movie, though I watched the first one. But I’m a big fan of music in general. And I’m extremely curious on how the author will give justice to the topic that focuses on sound/music which in my opinion, is hard to describe in writing. Especially on this case that it is not just about music, but a capella. You just have to hear it to appreciate it, you know. I don’t know anything technical about music. What I’m saying is I love listening to music and I appreciate a great deal of genre. So, anyway Noteworthy is not just about a capella, there are a lot more issues involved that are relevant in today’s time. Diversity is in so much work on this book and a lot more.

Chinese-American Jordan Sun is a scholar at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. She is now in her junior year and was focused on theater arts. The thing is, Jordan’s an Alto 2, and her singing voice is difficult to reconcile with musical theater. For 3 straight years, she never got a spot on the school’s fall musical. Like what her mentor said, she has a unique sound but it is not for musical theater. It’s not only her that’s being frustrated, her mom is threatening to pull her out of the school if she didn’t make any progress on her theater career. It doesn’t matter that she’s on scholarship, her school textbooks alone cost a lot and money has always been a problem in the Sun household. Her father is paraplegic which make jobs limited for him. Her mom has to juggle between jobs and even if they got help from the government, it is just not enough to pay the extra expenses. But Jordan is determined to finish high school at Kensington and she has to do something about it.

As if answering her prayer, the Kensington’s élite a cappella octet, Sharpshooters, is looking for a new Tenor member and is opening up an audition. The Sharpshooters is treated with reverence at school and people seem to lose their minds whenever they perform. Girls and boys alike fawned over them. And since Jordan has a deep voice, it is possible that she can pass the audition. But how can it be possible when the Sharpshooters is an all-male group? An idea pop into her head, she can disguise as a guy! What is there to lose, right? She then prepared herself and disguised as a boy, Julian Zhang who is actually her cousin. But he’s miles away from Kensington so that won’t be a problem, really. Imagine her surprise when she actually passed the audition (and the initiation!) and not one of the Sharpshooters see through the disguise.

Now, a new problem arise, she doesn’t only have to look like a guy, she has to learn to act like one when she’s with any of the Sharpshooters. But being with seven guys is not what she imagined it to be. She has to deal with raging hormones, boys drama and the unending rivalry with another a cappella group, The Minuets. What started as a fight for her passion and dreams ended up as understanding herself and finding unexpected friends and a place where for the first time she feels like she finally belongs.  

One thing I like about Noteworthy is that it covers a lot of topics that you won’t see in most YA novel. From exploring Jordan’s sexuality, the disabled parent, diverse characters and even poverty. I like how Jordan, while playing Julian, was able to reconcile with her sexuality, without any reservation, she welcomes the realization with open arms. In those times that she’s pretending to be a guy, there were moments that I forgot that she is really just pretending. She makes Julian so believable that people can’t see Jordan anymore. Or maybe they just see what they want to see.

I admit I don’t have high hopes for this one. I underestimated it and was not expecting anything amazing. I expected this one to be more about music and a capella but like I’ve said, there is more to this book than that. Am I disappointed? Not at all. In fact, I really love it. The plot, as well as the characters, are great. Jordan alone is an interesting main character especially when he’s dealing with things as Julian. I also like how her being poor is not much as a focus of the story, much less ashamed of it. Her not having friends and looking for a place where she belongs is something a lot of people can relate to. There are times that you will not agree with her decisions (which is why I can’t totally give this a 5), but character flaw is what endear her to me as well as the side characters. The Sharpshooters are a whole bunch of interesting and engaging characters, even those who are not highlighted much in the story. It is not easy dealing with seven unique guys with different personalities and it is just one of the things to look forward to in this book. The friendship that Jordan develops with them is something you wish you have. Or maybe, that’s just me. Not having a friend in this foreign country will do that to you.

Oh, and one more thing, do not expect much romance on this one. Although it is present, romance is not the focus of the story. Which I don’t mind one bit. My only complaint was that it took really long time for the story to pick up that I abandoned it a couple of times. But that doesn’t make me enjoy it less.

Overall though, Noteworthy is great, filled with humor YA contemporary book which deals with so many relevant topics in our society. And Miss Redgate wrote so well by being subtle and sensitive about them. One that is not only an entertaining read but also relatable. So, go ahead and pick this up and let us all cheer for the Sharps.

RATING: 4.5/5

4andhalfhearts

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(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

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2 thoughts on “Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

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