REVIEW: 'Noteworthy' by Riley redgate

NOTEWORTHY by Riley Redgate

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NOTEWORTHY by Riley RedgateNoteworthy
five-starsWritten by Riley Redgate
Published by Amulet Books
Published on May 2nd 2017
Genres: LGBT+, Own voices, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon

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.

Redgate’s debut novel is an epic tale of when Mulan meets Pitch Perfect that kept me awake until 3am and smiling for even longer.

There are so many things I want to say about this book that I seriously don’t know where to start. I wanted something a little lighter after the rollercoaster that was Caraval, and I really wasn’t disappointed with Noteworthy. It’s funny and clever and the perfect story to have a good time after a long day.

I love how it tackles very important issues, like transgenderism and the question of what makes you a boy, what makes you a girl? It’s handled with care, both in the narrative and in Jordan’s thoughts, and you can see Redgate has done her research on the subject. Jordan’s thoughts on the matter and how she deals with her own identity and what the implications are, are so interesting to follow through the story.

I also enjoyed how it tackles the idea of religion, and how it links to one’s sexual orientation. It’s not something that is discussed much, and it’s almost always discussed when it comes to Christianism, so it made for a refreshing change to have a character from another religion talking about what it means to be religious and gay. And the casual sexist that can exist when boys are talking to each other behind closed doors, when they probably don’t even realise how hurtful their words could be to girls. Because those guys are great people, don’t get me wrong — they prove it times and times again through the story. But casual sexism very much is a thing, and I could totally relate to Jordan when she heard things that those guys would never have said in front of girls.

But mostly, I love love love how Jordan discovers her sexuality through the book. It is a big deal without being dramatic, it is important without being at the front and centre, and it touches me in a way no other book ever did before. Like, this book gets me. It gets what my life is about. I’ve never felt more like I was being properly represented than when reading Noteworthy, to the point where I sent extracts to my friends just to tell them “see! it’s us!” That’s how powerful diverse books are!

More lightly, Noteworthy is a read fun read about music and friendship. The boys in the book are just all wonderful in their own way, and the easy banter between them is amazing. I laughed at so many of their jokes and rolled my eyes at all their bullshit and dramatics. The story was delightful thanks to the ensemble of characters, and I was sad when I reached the end and had to say goodbye to them all.

All in all, Noteworthy is a pretty solid book if you want to have a good time with a diverse group of characters. Or if you like nerd singing. Or both.

(I would also give it one more star for, it a universe where all singers are fictional, name-dropping both Hamilton and In The Heights. My Lin-Manuel Miranheart.)

(Try not to read it with Isaac and Trav as lighter versions of Hamilton and Burr, I dare you.)



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