Saturday, April 22, 2017

Book Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Author: Riley Redgate
Publication: Amulet Books (May 2, 2017)

Description: 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. But 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.

My Thoughts: Jordan Sun is a scholarship student at a boarding school for the Performing Arts. Her unusual vocal range - Alto 2 - makes it difficult for her to fit into the musical theater world. The story begins with her being passed over for a role in the fall musical for the third year in a row. She is feeling disappointed and discouraged when a mass email is sent out that one of the most prominent a capella groups at school is looking for a new tenor. She decides to dress in drag and try out. She figures that she has nothing to lose.

When she is accepted into the group, she has to extend her time in drag which causes all sorts of difficult situations. She hasn't a bunch of close friends at the school since she spent the previous two years in an intense relationship with a fellow student who has graduated and moved on - cheating on her along the way. She has come back to school for her junior year trying to get over the heartbreak and forge her own path. She is concerned about her parents who are living at or below the poverty line in San Francisco and who, she fears, want to bring her back home.

Jordan - now Julian - makes friends with the guys in the group who are an interesting assortment of personalities. It is the first time that she feels she has a home and a family at the school. But everything is hinging on her being successful at hiding her gender. The pressure mounts because the various a capella groups are gearing up for a December performance that could lead them to be chosen as an opening act on a famous a capella group's European tour. One other group is especially determined to thwart her group's chances and embarks on a number of pranks.

This was an engaging story. I was particularly taken with Jordan's musings on gender identity and her own sexuality. This was a great look at gender roles and gender identity. Students interested in the performing arts or boarding schools will enjoy this story and meet some interesting characters along the way.

Favorite Quote:
I slid off my bed and measured my breaths. Stop thinking about college -- stop thinking at all -- give your brain a rest. It was always busy in my skull, always noisy, a honking metropolis of detours and preoccupations. 
I received this on for review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

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