Noteworthy by Riley Redgate | Review

Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Source of my copy: Publisher
Series: None
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.

Curious by the premise of a girl who disguises herself as a guy to make it big, I jumped into Noteworthy by Riley Redgate with very few expectations other than an entertaining read. When I finished Noteworthy, however, I was more than impressed, for, not only was it entertaining, but also very inspiring and eye-opening. I give it:
When my sister suggested I read Noteworthy for the blog, she likened it to Amanda Bynes's movie She's the Man, a rom-com that also featured a girl disguising herself as a guy in her determination to be recognized for her talents and not be belittled because of her gender. I liked the movie for all of its light humor and romance, and so, I was expecting just as much--and only as much--from Noteworthy.

However, to my surprise, I found Noteworthy to be far from a read filled with humorous sarcasm and swoon-worthy romance (although, it had a lot of that as well). Rather, it was a very intellectual read that included much discussion on the topics of sexuality, agency, poverty, and gender roles as Jordan narrates the story through her witty and candid voice. While reading, I highly appreciated the exploration of themes so relevant to and necessary for today's society. Albeit, such heavy matter made the story slow-paced (my only complaint against it); all the same, with my English professors' lectures echoing in my mind, I became invested in Noteworthy and all that it had to say.

Noteworthy was told in first-person by Jordan, the deep-voiced and female main character who becomes Julian after another rejection to playing a part in her school's musical. From Jordan, the themes of sexuality, agency, poverty, and gender roles are introduced and explored: quiet Jordan guards her heart after a bad break up with her boyfriend of two years and battles between her guilt and frustration over her family's endless struggles that includes much debt, little funds, and few options. With her newfound role as Julian, she strives to strike a balance between her female self and her male self, yet she stumbles along the way when her insecurity, skepticism, and distrust of others threatens her confidence, relationships, and hopes for the future. She has a mouth that has a mind of its own, full of quips and needless apologies, and she questions the meanings of "young lady" and "man up" because she finds all the societal implications behind them completely confusing and unnecessary. She's tall. She's Asian. She's a she with a voice that is supposedly more for a he. Finally, a year ago, while drunk, she kissed one of her best friends, Jenna, and now, while acting as Julian, she is beginning to realize she may be bi.  

Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed by Jordan and rooted for her all throughout the book.

I was reading Jordan's story during a time when I felt lost and confused myself about who I am, who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to get there, and with that perspective, I found that I related to Jordan on many levels. Like her, I tend to be guarded and shy around others, not trusting that any thing will last forever when all is threatened by Time, Distance and, in general, Life. Also, similar to Jordan, I know the feeling of discouragement one can feel when faced with the fact of having less than others and realizing how that truth narrows the road to material success far more than comfortable. Thus, while understanding these obstacles and knowing Jordan's situation was ten times more difficult than mine, I was amazed by how she faced her problems one by one and overcame them all to the best of her ability. Yes, she laughed; she cried; she lied; and she ran away often to only face the consequences later, but through all her successes and failures, she grew so much into herself, the pains and heartaches were worth it. Also, I loved how she thought through all her experiences--that with each step toward solving her problems and rediscovering herself, she questioned her choices and others' choices and tried to understand how those actions reflected on her and those around her. I garnered wisdom from Jordan's story as much as she did, and now I am forever changed by her noteworthy thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and hopes that will no doubt inspire and motivate others.

Overall, I found Noteworthy full of wit and wisdom--a surprising and interesting combination I absolutely adored. I highly recommend it to any one needing guidance on figuring out who they are or to any one who needs a confirmation that they are not the only ones confused and lost. Truly, you are not, and I hope that this book, along with all those around you who love you, remind you of that.

Also, I really enjoyed the LGBTQIA+ rep in the book. To be honest, I haven't read a lot of LGBTQIA+ young adult novels and I was highly impressed with Noteworthy, especially because it's an ownvoices read.

Read of Noteworthy. Its title literally speaks for itself! 

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