Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Publisher: Amulet Books

Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/LGBTQIA

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Cover = Goodreads

*HUGE thanks to Amulet Books, Netgalley, and Riley Redgate for the eGalley of Noteworthy in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…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.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.

In another case of “The Goodreads Blurb Does It Best” lol, I’ll try my best not to reiterate what’s listed above. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate is one of the most unique Young Adult books I’ve come across in a long time. I knew I had to request it when I saw it pop up on Netgalley simply because I am a big fan of the Pitch Perfect movies & most recently the Pentatonix. As a matter of fact I am listening to Bohemian Rhapsody by Pentatonix while typing up this review 😉 Acapella as a whole has always interested me possibly because as mentioned in this book, there’s humor in it. The idea of a student cross dressing in order to join a all male Acapella group & leading a double life…sounds exhausting no? Jordan Sun manages to pull off try outs for Kensington’s uber popular & exclusively all male Acapella group the Sharpshooters securing the 8th spot in the group.

She goes on to live on campus as both Jordan and Julian successfully since for the most part, she has no friends on campus. After her in school boyfriend broke up with her, Jordan realized that she had made him her center focus & that with him gone, she is pretty much alone on campus. Jordan has a small group of gal pals back in California, but life in New York attending Kensington Blair has pretty much isolated her from them. Attending Kensington also hasn’t been without it’s challenges, Jordan’s parents are struggling to keep food on the table & we see her spend holiday breaks alone on campus to avoid burdening her parents with the cost of travel. Jordan’s dad is also disabled & the subpar healthcare system in the United States is briefly touched upon. We see Jordan going through her day to day routine while handling the very sobering reality that is her financial situation.

“The problem was the money this place asked us to drop on textbooks and supplies, even those of us on financial aid. A lot of other boarding schools were adopting full-ride scholarship options that paid for books, travel, laptops-the whole deal. Kensington hadn’t caught on yet. Every semester, I calculated my textbook costs, usually three or four hundred dollars, and prayed it was offset by the money my parents weren’t spending to feed me”

In getting accepted into the Sharpshooters as Julian, she finds a home away from home with a distinct group of guys. We get to see Jordan’s perspective as “one of the guys” when she’s dressed as Julian. Jordan’s insider pass grants her access to male friendships & bonds as well as the first stirrings of sexism in young males. As we see Jordan grow accustomed & more comfortable living as Julian, we see her question her sexuality & identity. Noteworthy touched on so many subjects that are not written about as much in YA making it a much more relatable read.

Noteworthy has to have one of the most unique and awesome cast of characters in YA at the moment…I’ve convinced myself of this lol. Starting with our main protagonist Jordan aka Julian a Chinese-American student attending a boarding school in NYC, I’ll be honest and say that it took me a bit to warm up to her during the beginning chapters. I almost felt like she was in a haze going through every day life which I pinned most of on her stress levels lol. It was hard to connect with her in the beginning but then you see her start to develop & show her personality and I started to look forward to her coming & goings. She does mention that as Julian, she feels a confidence that is missing as Jordan. The Sharpshooters are as follows:

Trav- leader of the Sharpshooters, also composes pieces for the group & takes his position very seriously (barely cracks a smile lol)

Jon Cox- is your typical popular guy with good looks & a little muscle only he is described as having an operatic voice

Mama or Theodore-My 2nd fave, Theodore was given the nickname Mama for his tendency to clean. He is described as a big lovable guy who also happens to be Jon Cox’s roommate & best friend. He’s described as having the type of deep voice you’d find in movie trailers

Nihal-hands down my FAVE of the group! Nihal is also a Tenor 1 like Jordan, he introduces himself as being Sikh & not Muslim, Indian & from Jersey who wears his turban. Nihal is very outspoken, sarcastic (LOVE!), and loyal

Isaac-Trav’s right hand man, is described as being a tall man bun rocking type of guy. He’s lively & often times the glue that holds everyone together

The 2 Rooks aka Freshmen Erik & Marcus- these 2 guys get stuck with all the grunt work since they’re freshmen & pretty much operate as one.
Riley Redgate gave each of these characters a distinct voice making it very easy to follow each one & learn their individual character traits. All very well fleshed out, these characters were a ton of fun 😉
 With Noteworthy, Redgate has gifted the YA genre with a magically diverse book. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel reading about a cisgender character cross dressing. These concerns are addressed when Jordan thinks of the Transgender community and how they’d feel if her secret of cross dressing for a spot in the group were to be revealed. In many ways, this book felt very much aware of the tough topics it was trying to grasp. I appreciated that it included many issues that we often do not see in YA such as socioeconomics, Healthcare, and disability as it pertains to the head of household. I also really appreciated the Chinese-American cultural experience we got a glimpse of through Jordan’s character. The fact that this is a Own Voices YA book only added to my love for it. On another note, I do wish that Jordan’s sexuality was explored a bit more because we were seeing her question her sexuality as well as the gender she identifies with.  This is one of the reasons I docked it a star, Jordan’s development towards the end felt unaddressed. The other reason would be strictly pacing which was a bit slow in the beginning. I’ve heard other readers say that Noteworthy is a much quieter read than it appears & I’d have to say that I agree. Around the 40% mark it does pick up & maintains until the very last page. I highly recommend Noteworthy to lovers of diversity & Acapella 😉

Have any of you awesome bookworms picked up a copy of Noteworthy?  if you’ve already read it, which character was your favorite? and why? <3<3<3

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The Playlist Shuffle Tag

Happy Thanksgiving ALL!!! I’ve been sick for the past week with a bad cold and asthma which is why i’ve been a bit M.I.A here on the blog. I’m honestly thankful to finally being able to breathe a bit better just in time for Thanksgiving with the family. I’m also very thankful for this wonderful community of bloggers that welcomed me into the blogosphere 6 months ago today. Seriously Ladies & Gents, you all are AMAZING human beings that can turn any bad day into a good one just by me opening my WordPress app. I am thankful for all of the comments that remind me there are people out there reading my shared thoughts, the likes & the shares on Twitter…it feels so good to finally connect with people who get my love for all things books & have taken the time out to get to know the gal behind the screen. Now, on to the tag lol…

Anne from InkedBrownies tagged me & stated the reason as “because I can’t help but wonder what’s coming through those earphones in her profile picture!  This alone had me raising a brow in question of which headphones she was referring to. Whelp in my profile pic I had headphones & I’ve just changed my profile pic this morning only to realize that my headphones make an appearance in this new photo as well LMAO! I was also tagged by Danielle at Booksvertigoandtea, funny thing Danielle that you would list a Beatles song as 1 of your 12 cuz I struggled finding my FAVORITE Beatles song on Youtube & therefore left it out—>Come Together is a song I listen to daily & always comes up no matter how many times I shuffle, it knows I love it so much lol. If you’re not already following these lovely gals, please do I guarantee they will only brighten up your Reader 😉

Tag Rules:

  1. List the first 10 12 songs that come on shuffle (no skipsies)
  2. Then write your favorite lyric (or verse) from that song *if it’s worth to mention*
  3. Tag others

Disclaimer—I am all over the place with my music & can easily go from singing my heart out over a ballad to full out failed attempts at dancing like Shakira *no shame in my game* 

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#1 Shakira-La Tortura Reggaeton Remix

No pido que todos los días sean de sol

No pido que todos los viernes sean de fiesta

Tampoco te pido que vuelvas rogando perdón

Si lloras con los ojos secos

Y hablando de ella

 

#2 Blues Traveler-Run Around (this man & his harmonica bring back so many memories of Summer road trips to Upstate NY with my Uncle & cousins)

And I’ll lie too and say I don’t mind

And as we seek so shall we find

And when you’re feeling open I’ll still be here

But not without a certain degree of fear

Of what will be with you and me

I still can see things hopefully

*for any Roseanne fans, you may have seen Blues Traveler on the show a few times since he made several appearances 🙂

 

#3 Emeli Sandé-My Kind Of Love (Redone and Alex P Remix) 

‘Cause when you given up

When no matter what you do, it’s never good enough

When you never thought that it could ever get this tough

That’s when you feel my kind of love

 

#4 Amy Winehouse-You Know I’m No Good

I cheated myself

Like I knew I would

I told ya I was troubled

You know that I’m no good

I cheated myself

Like I knew I would

I told ya I was troubled

Yeah, ya know that I’m no good

 

#5 J Balvin feat. Pharell Williams, BIA, Sky-Safari

Doesn’t matter when or where this song comes on, i’m rolling windows down & busting a move lol

 

#6 Nas Featuring Amy Winehouse-Cherry Wine

I want someone who like the champagne I like

My a-alike, someone to talk me off the bridge any day or night

She teach me how to live, she ain’t afraid of life

Not easily impressed with the rich and famous life

Cause she done been there and heard all the rumors before

 

#7 Duffy-Syrup & Honey

Don’t you be wastin’ all your money

On syrup and honey because I’m sweet enough

Don’t you be usin’ every minute on makin’ a livin’

Because we got our love

 

#8 Adele-Send My Love (To Your New Lover)

Send my love to your new lover

Treat her better

We gotta let go of all of our ghosts

We’ve both know we ain’t kids no more

 

#9 Kehlani-Gangsta (from Suicide Squad Soundtrack)

OBSESSED with this soundtrack as a whole!

 

#10 Mary J. Blige featuring Smif ‘N’ Wesson- I Love You (Remix)

 

#11 Florence + The Machine-Shake It Out

And every demon wants his pound of flesh

But I like to keep some things to myself

I like to keep my issues strong

It’s always darkest before the dawn

Oh Florence…this song is always on heavy rotation on my playlist. I have 3 of her albums & can’t go a day w/out listening to those vocals.

 

#12 Mary J. Blige-Someone To Love Me feat Diddy & Lil Wayne (Oh Man! if this were an old school record I would’ve burned right through it!)

The war’s I’ve fought, scars that I’ve garnered

The hustle, I got that honest from my father

Mix me with violence, blend me with peace

Combine me with hate and I can’t face defeat (nope)

I did it all in a week

Still incomplete as I stand on my feet

It take a lot to still dance to the beat

Skin more cold and callous than concrete

 

I tag all who are interested in doing this tag, I had a blast with this one! I love tags that make me laugh while completing them. I laughed at how random I can be with my music taste & when picking my favorite lyrics I also had a few moments of deep thought. This tag was fun & I could kick myself for hesitating on doing it cuz I don’t know about ya’ll but my playlist is an extension of me & that can get personal real quick LMAO! No regrets here though so thanks Anne & Danielle! 😉