Friday, 28 July 2017

ARC Review: NOTEWORTHY by Riley Redgate

Thank you, Abrams Books, for sending this amazing ARC my way.


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.


Although I got around reading this much later than expected, I am happy to say this is a hell of a great story, one worth the wait.

I, for some reason, found this novel hard to get into. Must be because I started binge watching Blindspot, so I barely had time to dedicate to it. However, once I got enough free time to dive into Riley Redgate's new novel, I could not take my eyes off its pages. And so I did not. It took me one day to get through most of it, so I think that is kind of self explanatory as to what expect from it: greatness.

Riley Redgate takes us through this crazy journey of a girl who must pretend to be a boy in order to try and get ahold of her dreamed future. She infiltrates an eight boys a capella group, dividing her world in two parts. When she is a boy, she is risking it all, she is reckless, but happy. She befriends the other seven guys and actually falls for one of them. It is so hard for Jordan to play Julian in the beginning, taking care of her voice, movements and decisions... but at one point, being Julian is easy and, on the other hand, being Jordan feels fake. With that, our main character gets into really deep rants about what femininity means, what genders are and why we say we fit into only one when she clearly can play both.

This book is actually really interesting. Not only gender is talked through, but also bisexuality and other sexualities. I love how they are normalized into this story, how liking a boy or a girl or maybe both is no insanity. I really like how it is treated normally, and how the main character defends it all so well. I think Jordan is really well-built, in a realistic way not many characters are developed, and so her thoghts are easy to understand and agree with.

Besides the depth of the story, I can confirm that I laughed with these characters. This is a funny story, there is no doubt of that. And cute, really cute. And I am not only talking about the romance there is (which I absolutely loved and praised) but about how genuine the friendships are, how raw and real the bonds between the eight of them are. I could picture them, having all that fun, and could not stop myself from smiling.

I believe Riley' writing style has something special to it, and I do not know if it has something to do with the fact that she sang a capella too and therefore the rehearsing and performing experiences are really well portrayed on the paper, but I am amazed by how much I was allowed to be a part of the plot, believing most scenarios.

So, Noteworthy is a funny and cute well-written story about identity and music. But, overall, I would describe it as impactful and definitely important. The message it sends is well needed: it does not matter who you are, where you are from, how you look, your sexuality, your age... nothing should ever stop you from following your dreams and actually accomplishing them. Just be true to yourself, fight for it and you will eventually get there.

Long story short, Noteworthy is a great novel to sit with for a while and to think about. Great character development and such an on-point pace, very recommended to contemporary lovers.


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