I discovered Riley Redgate’s debut, Seven Ways We Lie, a little while ago and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Guys, this was a book with SEVEN different point of views, it was a bit crazy. But it was diverse, relatable, and overall really a great contemporary. I’m not here to talk about that one, though, but I needed to mention that first to be able to say this: Noteworthy takes the author to a whole other level, and easily and very quickly on my ‘authors-to-always-look-out-for’ list.
A CHARACTER-DRIVEN CONTEMPORARY
Noteworthy is Jordan’s story, a Chinese-American, tall, a bit insecure and she’s an Alto 2, preventing her from playing in her elite school’s plays so.many.times. When the all-boys a cappella group has one place that opens up, she’s desperate to prove herself worthy and talented and auditions. As a boy. And she gets in. That’s when the story starts, basically, but this book is so much more than just this. As a lot of contemporaries are, it’s a very character-driven story and every single character in this was realistic, relatable, which made this book so, so good.
THREE-DIMENSIONAL, REALISTIC & RELATABLE CHARACTERS
Right from the beginning, the main character’s voice shines through the pages. It’s witty, relatable and mirrors perfectly some of the teenagers’ confusion about the world, their self-doubts, their goals and what reality is actually like. Jordan is a character I wanted to root for from page one – if she had her own doubts, the story never got clouded by them, making this a heavy read, on the contrary. Her voice was unique, witty and filled with everything you want your characters in a contemporary to be – at least, for me. There was stunning character development in this story and so many important questions tackled as the story goes on – but more on that later on.
All of the cast surrounding Jordan is vividly shaped, making you visualize the little a cappella group so well, each with their own quirks and own issues, which I loved so much. Everything, from the beginning of friendships to the struggles it encounters, was well shaped and felt very realistic, because such as insta love, insta friendship does not happen. It takes time to grow, just as it takes Jordan some time to accustom to her new universe….And this new identity she creates herself.
IMPORTANT ISSUES TACKLED
Because yes, in that synopsis, you can guess that Jordan, in order to get into that all-boys a cappella group, cross-dresses and pretends to be a boy. More than just trivia, the author gives out this as an argument to explore so many important issues in teenagers’, and everyone’s lives, really: what it means to be a boy and a girl, discovering your true identity and overall questions the whole gender identity, which is not a light subject, told here with patience and as a teenager’s point of view: with lots of questions, Google searches and overall realistically just as well.
Another little something that should be noted here, is how deliciously diverse the cast of this book is. Jordan comes from a Chinese-American family, and it’s deeply rooted into her identity. Her parents are poor and struggles about being able to afford her dreams and her elite school and everything are of importance in the story just as well. More than the questions of identity and gender, Noteworthy also tackles the issues of sexual identity, which Jordan questions a lot through the story. Also, we got bi characters, we got a super-cute and sweet say Sikh boy, a Japanese one, some people are small, the main character is tall, there are big, small, there is just a little bit of everything and that book clearly celebrates it as it fits naturally into the story.
Riley Redgate’s writing style is easy to get into and it’s simply beautiful. It’s funny at times – that book got me smiling and laughing more than once, it’s achingly real when it depicts Jordan’s feelings about life, love, friendship and that crazy school experience she got going on in that school. Because there is romance, her way of writing these passages and of making the feelings seem so utterly both conflicted and real made my heart ache with happiness. If there’s one thing I’d have to say, is that it was a bit of a slow starter, but still got me hooked.
I would clearly recommend this book to everyone – contemporary fans or not. Noteworthy is a super easy read, one that’ll make you want to join an a cappella group and sing until your heart ache with happiness.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a digital review copy of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.
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Riley Redgate, Noteworthy, Published by Amulet Books, May 2nd 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.