ARC Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Posted March 17, 2017 by Madalyn || 9 Comments

ARC Review: Noteworthy by Riley RedgateNoteworthy by Riley Redgate
Published by Amulet Books on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 336
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley

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.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 You know those occasional books you go into with a ~feeling~ about? Those books you just know you’re going to love, even before you’ve read a single page? Well, friends, Noteworthy was that book for me, and I am happy to report that it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it blew my (already-high) expectations out of the water! I mean, a bisexual MC + cross-dressing + a capella choir + boarding school setting?! Yeah, no wonder this was the book of my dreams.

Obviously, being the choir nerd that I am, I adored the plot of Noteworthy immensely. Jordan Sun, a junior at the prestigious Kensington-Blaine Academy (an arts school), runs out of options when she isn’t cast in the school musical. So, with nothing left to lose, she decides to audition for the vacant Tenor I spot in Kensington’s oldest and most reputable a capella group, the Sharpshooters. The only problem? The group is historically all-male. Hilarity and heart ensue when Jordan (or shall I say Julian?) gets into the group and begins to find her place. The plot is fairly straightforward and could easily have fallen flat, but Redgate writes it so well.

In addition to its super fun premise, Noteworthy features one of the most lovable casts of characters I have ever read. I absolutely fell in love with every single one of the boys in the Sharpshooters, and I loved reading about Jordan’s newfound friendships with each of them. It’s hard to pick favorites, but I adored Mama the most out of all the Sharps– his love of Haydn, Handel, and his general classical music/music theory nerdiness were waaaaaay too relatable. I also loved his friendship with Jon Cox– yay for close dude friendships! Ugh, all the friendships among the guys in the Sharps made my heart melt. They were always looking out for each other.

Noteworthy is, in large part, a love letter to a capella. I loved seeing Jordan find her place and find *her people* through becoming a member of the Sharps. Reading about her falling in love with a capella was almost like reading a romance in and of itself (one that I could relate to a whole lot). The world of a capella– and of choir in general– was portrayed incredibly well, too. Redgate perfectly captured such specific feelings I have experienced time and time again singing in choral ensembles: the feeling of nailing an incredibly difficult passage for the first time and finally hearing it click into place with the other parts, the rush of adrenaline that takes over before a high-profile performance, the way singing with other people forms bonds stronger than almost any other art form can. I liked the rivalry between the a capella groups on Kensington’s campus, too– so fun to read about. Oh, and I adored the setting. I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I’m a sucker for boarding school settings, especially ones where school/campus life plays a major role in the story, and Noteworthy did not disappoint on this front.

Another huge reason I adore this book so much is for its representation. Not only is Jordan Asian-American, but her family also struggles financially, and the book explores the idea of privilege in an economic context (in addition to privilege in relation to race, sexuality, gender, and disability), which is something I haven’t read about too often in YA. Oh, and of course, Jordan is also bisexual and coming to terms with her sexuality. She struggles over the course of the book with her attractions, and with labeling herself. As a bisexual woman myself, this was arguably some of the best bi representation I’ve ever read. It felt disturbingly close to my own experiences. It’s brilliant in that it’s left open-ended– Jordan is still figuring out her sexuality, and she’s okay with the fact that she doesn’t know everything yet. As expected Noteworthy also makes some A+ commentary on gender.

Noteworthy originally drew me in with the promise of bisexual rep and a plot involving a capella, and though of course I adored those elements of the book, I ended up becoming enchanted with every single element of this book. I found myself falling deeply in love with each and every character and feeling so invested in the trajectory of the story. If I had to pick one single book of my heart, Noteworthy would be it. I only wish this had found its way to me while I was in high school. This is the book that high-school-choir-nerd-Madalyn-struggling-with-her-sexuality desperately needed, but hey, out-college-music-major-Madalyn adored it just as much, too. 🙂 All in all, Noteworthy is a book you do not want to sleep on. It will give you all the happy feelings. Run, don’t walk, and go preorder it ASAP!

Have you read Noteworthy yet? If so, tell me your thoughts below! I’d love to discuss. If not, what are you waiting for?!

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9 responses to “ARC Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

  1. OMG Redgate’s descriptions of nailing a passage and hitting a high note then falling back from it…ahh, SO PERFECT. And yeah, those moments when you’re singing with a choir and everything just clicks…and you’re just lost in it, in total sync. SHE GETS IT.

    Also, so interesting that you loved Mama the best. I totally know dudes like him “um, technically, she’s a contralto, not a tenor” – haha! I responded to Isaac right away, I think because he’s the kind of musician I always wished I was.

    I have so much more to say, but saving it for my own review. But I’m SO glad you loved this so much bc I really think this needs to be way higher on people’s TBRs. SO SO good.

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