Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Published by Amulet Books on May 2, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Pages: 400 Format: eARC Source: NG
I acquired this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. This does not impact my thoughts and opinions in any way.
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.
After hearing mention of Noteworthy by Riley Redgate a couple of time from trusted author recs, I took a shot and requested the title. Thank goodness I did! Noteworthy is a wonderful contemporary full of heart, soul, and singing. Set at a performing arts high school and featuring a diverse group of students, Redgate definitely hits all the right notes with Jordan’s story.
Jordan is a Chinese-American teen with a low female vocal register that keeps preventing her from getting roles in plays. She’s the perfect fit for an unique all male a cappella group called the Sharpshooters. There’s Trav, intense and anxious and Isaac, outgoing, always the center of attention. The bickering best friends Jon Cox and Mama and Nihal, the artiste. It’s rounded out by two freshman finding their way in Marcus and Eric. Seeing their insecurities and concerns made them all the more real and complex.
Plus there’s the singing! A capella has always been fascinating to me and I’m glad to see a story on the page about it. Yeah there’s been shows and films like Glee and Pitch Perfect but books always translate better for me. It brings an added element of competition and highlights the originality of combining voices to create one full sound. There’s a certain dynamic needed for this music and imagining eight unique voices coming together is absolutely amazing.
As an own voices novel for both the Chinese American MC and bisexuality I was happy to see such open, honest dialogue. Jordan’s experience with bisexuality is one of questions and uncertainty but that’s never the sole focus of the narrative. Redgate also highlights the difficulties of being poor and how one event can throw even working families into upheaval. It was authentic, raw, and really hit at the heart.
Overall Riley Redgate’s Noteworthy was a surprisingly delightful contemporary full of depth, emotion, and voice. The characters especially Jordan feel so authentic and I was entirely too invested in all of their stories. Even the a cappella was done well and didn’t overshadow the narrative. I absolutely recommend this one to everyone regardless of your feelings on music.
So are you excited for Noteworthy? Delighted to see a book with a cappella in it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!