I bought this book 🙂
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Published: May 2, 2017
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.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read Noteworthy, because I have read so many cross-dressing manga narratives that I felt kind of burnt out by the whole troupe. However, I needed a book for AsianLitBingo (read until bottom for details), and I thought “why not?” So I gave it a try, and I’m so glad I did!
First of all, the main character is bisexual– and she’s Asian American (Chinese to be exact). So there’s a spin on the whole cross-dressing troupe, and I find her to be very relatable. I think Noteworthy was funny, and engaging. Jordan is on a scholarship to an elite school for the arts, she lives in a dorm, and spent the first two years of her high school career glued to a boy who knew exactly what he wanted.
So once he graduates, she’s has no idea what to do with herself, and due to her voice she misses out on a lot of the theater roles. Then it dawns on her to addition for this all-boys accapella group, and it turns into the gamble of a lifetime.
Personally, what I really enjoyed about this book was Jordan. Her struggles as a teenager just trying to make it through junior year, struggles with family life, struggles with boys, or being a boy, or being a girl while pretending to be a boy. There’s even a scene where she talks about getting her period, and seriously, the struggle is real.
One thing people might not like, because I’ve seen quite a few complaints about it, is the slow romance. However, I like it how it progressed; it felt organic. She also has a crush on a girl that needed to be played out, and I thought it had really good bisexual rep. I mean, when you’re first starting out, feelings can be confusing. So I think Jordan was well written, and I liked how she was uncertain but openminded.
I also like that her other person of interest was Japanese, so yes on the positive Asian male love interests. I’m so glad I picked up this book!
That being said, I’ve seen quite a bit of discourse about this novel containing bad trans rep. As a queer cis female, I don’t think it’s my place to speak on this issue, and I’m linking a thread on the problem. I don’t believe the author did this intentionally, I just think that cis people are insensitive about trans issues and need to be better educated. Had a non-binary person not pointed this out to me, I would have missed it entirely.
I’m sorry if this book caused you hurt, and to those who could be effected by this book, please avoid it. If you plan on reading it despite the bad rep, just please be aware of the problem and read with a grain of salt.
Overall rating: 4.2/5 hearts!
Cover: 5 hearts
Plot: 2 hearts
Characters: 4 hearts
Pacing: 5 hearts
Writing: 5 hearts
Note: I read this as part of the #AsianLitBingo event, and you can read more about it here. It’s basically celebrating Asian American Heritage Month, and you need to read five books in a row that fill a prompt to get a bingo! This book fulfills the LGBTQIAP+ Asian MC slot!
Here are more books I read for the event: