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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lefty's Lowdown: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Published: May 2, 2017 by Amulet Books
Source: I received an electronic galley for review from the publisher via Netgalley, but this in no way influenced my review or my opinions of the book.
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
 Let's all say it together: WE NEED MORE SINGING BOOKS. I feel like I've been chanting this since the dawn of time, and Riley Redgate's Noteworthy just reaffirmed this notion because this novel is EXCELLENT. Imbued with diversity, friendship, and freakin a cappella, Noteworthy is not only a fun novel, but a touching, exploratory one as well.

Our main character is Jordan Sun, who attends an elite performing arts boarding school that her family can hardly afford, even with her scholarships. Even worse, they begin to wonder if they should be breaking their bank to send her to this fancy school when she never gets any of the roles she auditions before. Except, it's not because she's not talented. It's because she sings loowwwwww and it's hard to find a place for that in a world of lovely feminine voices. Jordan was a fantastic character. She is considerate and compassionate on a level that you don't quite get very often in YA. I loved following along as she explored honesty and gender and sexuality, I was so pleased with the questions she asked, the conclusions she came to, and the way she grew throughout the novel. I think she will be a highly relatable character for many readers out there!

Something I really adored in this novel are the relationships that developed. Am I referring to the romance? Partially, but more than that--the camaraderie!! The dynamic between everyone in the a cappella group she joins is fascinating! I completely enjoyed reading about both the moments of revelry and the moments of tension and uncertainty. The friendships aren't perfect, but they're real--and they are a lot of fun!! Some of the bickering and random conversations made me smile so widely to myself.

And, okay, back to the romance. This just in: it's cute as heck. I loved how genuine and sweet it was...though I do wish we got to see a bit more of the romance. It was a mere sliver of the novel. But at the same time, the romance was not even remotely close to being the novel's focus so I'm also okay with just having a little bit.

I ate this book up, y'all. I thought it was marvelously written and developed. It navigates so many pertinent issues and it made me consider those issues in a way I'd never even thought of before. This is an absolute GEM in the world of YA and the world of books in general, and you do not want to sleep on it. This is an Asian & bisexual own voices novel, to be clear. It's a thoroughly entertaining read from the first word to the last, while also delving into important subjects and truths about our society. It really stands out among the smorgasbord of contemporary novels at our disposal.

Oh, and also, SINGING.

My rating:
Honestly more like 4.25/5

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