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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. 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.

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.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published May 2, 2017

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Riley Redgate

4 books651 followers
allegedly human

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 807 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,963 reviews294k followers
April 26, 2017
Monday morning was the worst possible time to have an existential crisis, I decided on a Monday morning, while having an existential crisis.

I *almost* didn't read this. I wasn't sure if it would be too cutesy for me, or focus more on musical technicalities than I have the attention span for. But it was SO GOOD. I had so much fun reading this book! For me, it's another Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Humour is extremely subjective, but this is exactly the kind that speaks to me. I was tentatively reading a few chapters of my arc to get a sense of whether this book was for me or not, and I just couldn't stop laughing. Normally, books that people describe as "laugh-out-loud funny", I don't take literally. It's not like the reader is sat chuckling like a moron as they turn the pages. But, as it turns out, that's exactly what I was doing here.

The story is about Chinese-American Jordan, a scholarship student at her fancy east coast boarding school for the arts. After facing rejection after rejection for musical parts because of her Alto 2 range, she makes an impulsive decision: disguise herself as a boy and become the newest Tenor for an a capella group - the Sharpshooters.

Noteworthy is the perfect mix of important social commentary AND absolute hilarity. The author's writing is strong as she explores privilege, race, wealth, sexuality and gender identity. Jordan discovers her own bisexuality over the course of the novel, and also considers the parallels between her crossdressing and being transgender - then proceeds to dispel the myth that the two are the same, and acknowledge her own privilege. Jordan is not trans; she is a cisgender girl who struggles to fit into the narrow confines of femininity.

The book also considers the ugly truths of healthcare and insurance, when it comes to Jordan's paraplegic father - the many ways the U.S. system fails its poorer citizens.

The thing is, though, the serious issues pair so well with the humour. This is not a depressing book. At all. It's a lovely warm novel about the kind of friendship that feels like family. The Sharpshooter characters are so realistic and lovable; so memorable. And did I mention that I found it really funny?
I laughed, desperately tried to keep the sound deep, and it came out as a strangled sort of hurr-harr, horf! noise. The sort of laugh a cartoon dog would have.
"Um," he said. "Are you okay?"
"Yep absolutely. Yes. Just something. Caught in my throat."


A slight pressure worried at the back of my head, and the blindfold fell from my eyes. I blinked rapidly, praying my eyebrows hadn't smudged. Thank God I'd used enough setting spray to freeze a ferret in place.

Just... great writing, great characters, important issues and lots of fun. I'm so so glad I read it. Noteworthy is an absolute pleasure to read.

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Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,309 followers
June 16, 2017

Noteworthy snuck up on me. It is never a book I would have thought I would love, but I fell head over heals for it. I heard acapella and assumed it wouldn't be for me, but it wound up being one of the funniest and most charming contemporaries that I have read this entire year.

The narration of this book is stellar. It starts in the very first line, and keeps you hooked and laughing to the end. Jordan's voice is self-aware, honest, and so authentic. She has constant fears and anxieties, and she isolates herself but longs for connection. Everything I loved about this book can probably be traced directly back to the skill shown in Jordan's voice.

Even though her exploration of her sexuality was pretty minor, I appreciated that this was a book where Jordan learning she is bisexual was a plot but it wasn't the central plot. So much of this story was about Jordan discovering herself and who she is, and being bisexual was a part of that, but it wasn't the main thing she was supposed to learn. I loved the really internal aspects of this, and of Jordan seeing a slow change within herself that she liked but that also sometimes scared and confused her. I thought her experiences with gender felt really nuanced and that was a huge relief after reading a bunch of books recently where the gender discussion was.... less than complex.

Also, I am not usually a huge fan of books about allocishet teenage boys. They are generally written in a particular way and I just have a hard time connecting to those characters. This was absolutely not a problem in Noteworthy. The boys (who were not all heterosexual, by the way) were a varied collection of likable assholes, which is exactly the kind of character I adore. They were funny and all super close friends who constantly supported one another and were central parts of one another's lives. They were smart and complex and all had lives that felt separate from Jordan's, which is so nice to find in side characters.

As far as diversity, this seemed like a big win for me. The main character is Chinese-American, bisexual, and comes from a poor family and all of these are aspects of herself that Jordan reflects on pretty frequently. There are other side characters who are queer, and other side characters who are POC. As far as this being a cross-dressing story, I appreciated that there was an awareness on behalf of the main character that her experiences were very separate from that of trans folks. While I would have appreciated it more if there had been actual trans characters in the book for Jordan to interact with and to further the conversation on gender, I did really like the fact that this was the first book I've ever read where a character cross-dresses and also acknowledges the trans community and the particular set of challenges that they face.

Overall, this was a joy. While the acapella stuff itself sometimes verged on feeling silly, I couldn't help but care because all of the characters were so likable and well-written. I have to give a special amount of love to books I read that can make me grin and can also make me tear up, and Noteworthy did both. This was a fabulous contemporary full of wit and character depth, and I will definitely be looking into more books by Riley Redgate.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,093 reviews6,576 followers
February 7, 2017
Thank you to Amulet Books and Netgalley for providing an e-copy for me to review!
This book doesn't come out until May *cries*, so I'll just give you a list of reasons why you NEED to buy this book when it comes out. (But before I do, I would just like to mention that the cover seems a little juvenile for the content of this book, and I wish it had a better one, so keep that in mind. This book is a lot more mature than it seems!)
1. As my dear friend Kirsti (from melbourneonmymind) put it, this is pretty much the book baby of the movies She's the Man and Pitch Perfect. If that doesn't have you sold....... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
2. The diversity! Our MC is Asian American and coming to terms with the fact that she may be bisexual and what that means for her. Other diverse characters include A Sikh character, a gay character, characters with different body types, plus lots of discussion around transgender people, as our MC encounters a website specifically for trans people on tips and advice and there's a great, respectful discussion around it. There are also different characters living on different socio-economic levels and Jordan's father is also a paraplegic and is in a wheelchair and has chronic pain and one of the Sharpshooters has anxiety!
3. It's HILARIOUS. The banter is incredible and you'll be that person who giggles involuntarily in public.
4. THE BROMANCE. The 7 other guys that make up the Sharpshooters are such wonderfully developed, complex characters that I grew to love and adore. They are honestly friendship goals and I love them so much.
5. There's also a rivalry going on between two A Capella groups and I love that the main 'villain' has a lot of depth and complexity to his character.
6. It's an #ownvoices book. Enough said.
7. There were certain passages that sent chills down my spine for their relevance and honesty.

ARE YOU CONVINCED YET? I could literally go on forever, but alas, my obsession with this book is already at an all time high, so I'll stop for now. JUST GO AND PRE-ORDER THIS WONDERFUL BOOK.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
October 31, 2020
4.5 stars

Ignore the awful cover of this book, because it's actually a gem. This book combines the pretentious academic boy group of The Raven Boys with the deeply personal identity questioning and intensely realistic/funny dialogue of Red White & Royal Blue. For a book about music and a capella, this book focused more on the in-between moments and Jordan's growth within the group and within herself, which I thought was so authentic and provided a realistic escape. It's one of those books where I would look up and forget I was reading because I was so captured. Jordan was a surprisingly relatable character and even when I didn't always agree with her, I was still rooting for her.

Beyond the outline of a boarding school book about musically talented kids, this book added the really original take on a story of questioning gender and sexuality. Jordan recognized the moments when she invaded the territory of trans and gay men throughout her exploration of her own gender identity, which I thought was a positive touch from the author. The ending of this felt a little fast in comparison to the rest of the book, but this book is one that you remember by the little moments that made you smile or tear up, and I'm so glad I read it.
October 5, 2021

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Since a lot of the libraries and book shops are closed right now, some of my IRL reader pals and I have been leaving bags of books on each other's doorsteps. This book was in my bag, and it's funny, because I had the opportunity to get an ARC of this when it first came out and I passed it up, because I thought it might be too twee-- but more fool I, because this book was awesome. Thank goodness for all of the positive reviews out there convincing me that this book was, in fact, my cup of tea.

Set in a boarding school that's basically the teen equivalent of Julliard, Jordan is a theater student who wants desperately to be part of a singing group, but her low voice makes her a hard one to place in the female choirs. So one day, she gets the wicked idea to dress up in drag and try out for the boys' group instead: the Sharpshooters. She gets in and to her surprise, immediately develops a sense of camaraderie with Isaac, Nihal, Jon, "Mama," Trav, and the rest, even though she was in it to compete.

She also comes to terms with her latent bisexuality, which she repressed while in a relationship with an insecure idiot of a boy who thought this meant that he had more "competition," and also questions what it means to be a girl, as well as a boy, and how empowering it feels to break gender norms. There's also a lot of talk about privilege: about being cisgendered and cross-dressing, but also about poverty and what that means and how it can limit opportunities that others may take for granted, and how frustrating living in a machismo society is.

More than that, though, this book is just fun. I was in music for ten years, and part of what made it so fun were the competitions and closeness, and having a skill that more often than not had all of the secret fun of an inside joke that nobody who didn't play an instrument would get. The boarding school setting is also really fun in that it adds a tight, remote setting that feels isolated and allows you to focus more on the characters without getting distracted by the scenery, which makes it that much more daunting when a rival group, the Minuets, starts fucking with them to psych them out.

I think anyone who enjoys smartly written young adult novels will like those book. The heroine is bisexual and Chinese, and there are other characters who are either PoCs or LGBT+, as well (but I don't want to say who because it's a bit of a spoiler). There's an "Asian drama" vibe about this book, I think because gender-bending is such a key trope in those shows (I'm thinking specifically of Coffee Prince), but a lot of gender-bending books can come across as accidentally transphobic or contribute to bisexual erasure (especially when the guy is like "oh noes! I'm attracted to a boy??? JK, it was a girl! My masculinity senses knew this all along." This book addresses both of those narrative holes in quite a satisfactory way, I thought. I would definitely read more by this author.

3.5 to 4 stars
Profile Image for K..
3,686 reviews1,007 followers
February 7, 2017
I absolutely LOVED this. Like, want-to-reread-it-already kind of loved it.

This doesn't come out until May, so for now here are a bunch of bullet points of stuff I loved about it:
- Asian-American bisexual protagonist
- Who's from an incredibly poor family
- Whose father is a paraplegic
- Who gets her period unexpectedly and has to kludge together a pad out of toilet paper (Giiiiirl. We have all been there.)
- Who has to spend the day with a million dudes while quietly dying from cramps. While pretending to be a dude.
- Diverse love interest
- Diverse best friend
- A capella
- It's literally a cross between She's the Man and Pitch Perfect
- But set at an elite performing arts school
- Teenage boys having meaningful friendships rather than just "duuuude"
- Complex villains

I honestly could keep listing stuff for DAYS and I want to see this turned into a movie immediately. Please and thank you.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,177 reviews617 followers
May 24, 2017
This is a very cute YA novel about a teenage Chinese-American scholarship girl attending a privileged East Coast boarding school for performing arts. She's in the theatre stream but constantly missing out on parts in performances because of her low voice. When a vacancy for a singer comes up in one of the school's prestigious all male A cappella groups for a voice with her range she decides to dress as a boy and audition. After nailing the audition she realises she's going to have to live a double life alternating between her two identities as Jordan, the theatre girl and Julian the A cappella boy. At first she thought life would be less complicated as a boy but soon realises that boys have complicated feelings and personal issues too but that through pretending to be someone else she can finally become the person she wants to be.

The supporting characters in the book are all terrific and individual and the book is a lovely exploration of male friendships. The banter between the characters is often very funny and the book is a delight to read. It does also explore some more serious issues such as sexuality and gender issues, the impact of poverty on kids and the expectations of parents on their children. Recommended for when you need something positive and fun to read!
Profile Image for Sue (Hollywood News Source).
781 reviews1,594 followers
February 6, 2017
Noteworthy is She’s the Man meets Pitch Perfect book with a twist. The story subverted stereotypes and made it even better.

This book single-handedly saved me from my slump. I came in for the LGBT representation and I come back with so much more.

This is such a stellar story, I am struck with the reverberating otherness of the main protagonist Jordan. She’s Chinese American who is taller than most girls. She’s not perfectly comfortable with her skin. Heck, she can’t even land a role in her school’s play because of her voice. She’s poor and underprivileged. I love that the author fleshed that out, infusing details what makes her even more othered at her prissy environment. It’s achingly real. Even though, Jordan is a minority, the repercussion of her action was still dealt with.

Noteworthy simply have so many layers to unfurl. We have a prim and proper musical director Trav; the resident bad-boy slash enigmatic boy Isaac; a classical music fanatic Mama, the popular kid with learning disability Jon Cox; a visual art Sheikh student Nihal, A fourteen-year-old democrat boy Marcus, and a socially awkward guy Erik. These male characters have a significant role, it’s highly fueled by testerones. I’m letting it slide because Redgate made them more human who deserve empathy.

The story filled itself with several faithful, relevant problems we don’t often see in YA; it seems too much. But this is our reality, too.

For romance readers, yes there is romance, but alas that’s not the focal point of the book.

Review to come.
Profile Image for Chelsea slytherink.
288 reviews410 followers
March 5, 2017
review also posted on Wordpress! spoiler-free review!

I received an e-ARC from ABRAMS Kids through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

Noteworthy was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, so I am very happy this book didn't disappoint! This is a very enjoyable Young Adult contemporary and much more original, fun and entertaining than a lot of other books I've read in the genre. Though the general course of the story is quite predictable, this book still had me gasping out loud multiple times!

Jordan, the main character, is Chinese-American, just like the author. She's also bisexual, though I couldn't find out whether that part was #OwnVoices. Jordan grew up poor: her father is in a wheelchair and her family can't afford the hospital bills. The main character's best friend is a lesbian and has "curves you could see from three blocks away", though the reader never meets that character. A lot of the Sharpshooters' members are diverse as well. Nihal is Sikh and gay and he was probably my favourite side-character: too pure for this world! Though I have to admit I completely missed that Isaac is Japanese-American and Trav is black.

I absolutely love that the cast of characters was so diverse. Jordan's story isn't about being Chinese-American. Her story isn't about being bisexual. That's not a bad thing! My life doesn't revolve around my bisexuality either. But if you pick up this book thinking it's going to focus on the representation, you might be disappointed.

If anyone is doing Diversity Bingo 2017 like me, you can read this book for 'book by author of colour' or 'LGBTQIA+ MC of colour'. Like I've said, I'm unsure whether this book is #OwnVoices when it comes to bisexuality, so I don't know whether it qualifies for 'Bisexual MC (own voices)'. EDIT: Some people told me that this is indeed #OwnVoices for bisexuality as well!

Talking about the bisexuality: I love that Jordan is in a relationship with a boy. If books feature bisexual representation, they always feature F/F relationship. It's great that the author shows that Jordan's sexuality is just as valid, even though she is dating a boy.

Noteworthy features a lot of amazing quotes, which really reflect how educated Riley Redgate is. No, I don't always think that what a character says, reflects the opinion of the author, but there are so many quotes about equality and feminism in this book, there's no way Redgate doesn't feel the same way. Anyway, here are two quotes I really loved:
There was something deeply screwed up about that attitude. There is no world where “you’re wrong” is an acceptable answer to “this hurts.”

With so many queer kids at Kensington, people sometimes got weirdly comfortable, like they had a free pass to say anything they wanted about sexuality. I guess it was tempting to stick a rainbow-colored “Ally” pin on your backpack and call it a day, as if that were the endpoint, not the starting line.

Jordan cross-dresses in order to join the Sharpshooters and it is made very clear in the novel that she feels uncomfortable doing so, because she is using resources for trans people. Which once again shows that the author did a lot of research and handled every topic with a lot of respect.

Finally, there is some under-age drinking in this novel and some of the side-characters smoke weed, though readers don't witness the latter. Still, I am disappointed that every YA contemporary I have read lately features drug and alcohol use, but zero mentions of sex. I find it more realistic that teenagers have sex than do drugs.

conclusion: Noteworthy is the reason why I continue to pick up Young Adult contemporaries, even though I tend to dislike those books most of the time. The setting is very unique: the boarding school stands out among other high school contemporaries. I will definitely read other books by Riley Redgate, as she proved to be very educated and well-researched. Make sure to get a copy on March 2nd! I sure will!

✿ You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Wordpress! ✿
Profile Image for lauren ♡.
539 reviews108 followers
June 11, 2017
Read this review @ my blog Wonderless Reviews

I received a copy of this book from Amulet Books and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


I FUCKING LOVED THIS BOOK TO PIECES??? I thought I might have found it enjoyable because of all the diverse elements and the concept, but I was not prepared for the affect it was going to have on me. I can almost guarantee that this book will be on my “Fave Books I Read In 2017” post at the end of the year. I annotated pretty much EVERYTHING. Honestly from the very first line which was:

“Monday morning was the worst possible time to have an existential crises, I decided on a Monday morning, while having an existential crisis.”

I knew I was going to love this book.

If this was a video it’d be the part where I say to pause it whilst you go purchase a copy for yourself.

I WAS SO SAD WHEN I FINISHED IT BECAUSE I WAS SO ATTACHED TO EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. I’ll try to stop screaming at you all, but no promises!!!

So, our main character Jordan is a bisexual Chinese-American girl who has definitely become one of my favourite characters EVER. She was so wonderful. She made me laugh and cry and feel a whole range of emotions. She was so incredible real and considering this is an #ownvoices book it’s probably not surprising.

Jordan is trying to figure out herself and her sexuality whilst also trying to succeed in scoring a spot in her school musical. She’s starting to think that she may be bisexual, but is unsure because she was in a relationship with a boy. Riley Redgate did a great job of portraying that despite your current or past relationships you’re still valid as a bisexual person. The romance in this is ultimately F/M, but that doesn’t erase the fact that Jordan is bisexual. Another thing I loved was that Jordan’s family was depicted as not being well off financially. As someone who comes from a poor family, this was so comforting to see. Normally class in books is always middle or upper.

“Honestly, the only thing more sobering that being poor was dealing with it.”

I was fully expecting to hate the a cappella group that Jordan infiltrates. I thought they would be really shitty ass boys that would make me wanna punch things. Boy, was I wrong. Don’t get me wrong – there are some REALLY shitty people in this book, but the Sharpshooters aren’t one of them. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. In fact, if he was like 10 years older Isaac would be one of the new loves of my life. It’s not often that I get invested in romances, but this was one I was definitely getting behind. Jordan and Isaac were ADORABLE. I also loved the diversity within the Sharpshooters. I loved the friendship between Jordan and the guys. They all cared about each other so much?? IT WAS SO PURE.

“We walk into the next audition heads up and fearless, because no matter how many times we’ve heard no, we still imagine the answer will be yes, yes, yes.”

This book is so, so important and brings up so many great issues and topics. It delves into gender, sexuality and race. I feel like everything was handled pretty damn well. One thing I loved was just how much Riley Redgate went into “dressing up” vs. being trans. I always get worried with the “pretending to be the opposite sex” trope because so much can go wrong. It’s one thing to just dress up for fun and another to actually be transgender or genderfluid/non-binary. However, that was really bought to light in this book and Jordan totally recognised her privilege (in that sense).

“I guess it was tempting to stick a rainbow-colored ‘Ally’ pin on your backpack and cal it a day, as if that were the endpoint, not the starting line.”

Even though this book does delve into a lot of serious topics it’s also incredibly fun. I LAUGHED SO MUCH WHILST READING THIS. Like, the inevitable scene where Jordan’s facade ended was PERFECT and even though I knew it was going to happen the whole time I was like AHHH WHAT IS GONNA HAPPEN???????? It’s a super quick read that I didn’t want to put down which sucked because WHY DID IT HAVE TO END. I WANT A SEQUEL !!!!!

Something else that’s SUPER FUN is that Riley Redgate ACTUALLY created some of the songs featured in this book!!!! Her voice is AMAZING, so I definitely recommend checking it out.


Please, please, please read this book because it is so WONDERFUL I can’t even express it in words.
Profile Image for J. Bookish.
69 reviews227 followers
February 7, 2017
I was kindly allowed to read this wonderful thing early by Netgalley.

This book is so good I have already pre-ordered the physical copy even though I have the eARC file.

As with most books I truly love, I don't even know where to start. What is coherent reviewing, AMIRITE?

I requested this book because it features a girl named Jordan (I'm Jordyn, in case you aren't aware) who is an Alto 2, the deepest female vocal range in music (I also fall into this category). Low female voices are both rare and not particularly well utilized in theatre, and Jordan is desperate to find a place her voice will be valued. So, obviously, she pretends to be a boy and auditions for a coveted spot in a male A Capella group. Because, what else?

1. This book is hilarious. Dry humor is my life.
2. SO much diversity. Different cultures, sexualities, religions, mental illnesses and physical disabilities are all accounted for in a completely realistic way because hello, doesn't that sound like the people in your life?
3. MUUUSIIIIC. As a self-proclaimed theatre nerd, I was a tiny bit concerned that maybe the author didn't actually know anything about music and was just riding the Pitch Perfect wave but I WAS SO WRONG. The author herself was a part of an A Capella group in college, so no worries fellow music nerds.
4. The slowest of slow burning romances.
5. Dynamic male teenagers.
6. Moments of gorgeous clarity.
8. Why haven't you decided to read it and abandoned this review yet?!?
Profile Image for joey (thoughts and afterthoughts).
139 reviews142 followers
April 3, 2017
Noteworthy gets a lot right. Truly.

From the Asian-American experience (see: cultural and familial expectations), to self-discovery with sexual fluidity, to the topic at hand in A cappella, the prose is -- dare I say: pitch perfect -- and manages to bring to life a style of music near and dear to my heart.

Whether it provokes thought and feelings or otherwise, every song is its own journey, and what Noteworthy does exceptionally well is take you on the journey of what it's like to be in a vocal ensemble. Between arranging music and hours of relentless struggles in balancing harmonies to stage presence and mic control, it is as inclusive as you can get without dampening the story with info-dump the how-tos. That in itself deserves all the accolades.

Noteworthy is a solid voice into the world of contemporary A cappella from an the academic standpoint of musical groups (see: there is much more than just Pitch Perfect or Pentatonix, which I am also thankful for).

For an added bonus in reading experience, the songs featured in this book were created by the author and can be listened to here: https://rioghnach.bandcamp.com

-- Full review to come.
(And yes, you eyes don't deceive you. This book is hitting mid-to-high 4's for me.)
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,483 reviews903 followers
April 30, 2017
Loved this. Think Pitch Perfect meets She's The Man.

But this book is way more than just a fluffy story about a girl with a contralto voice who attends a performing arts boarding school. A girl whose voice shuts her out of the typical female musical theater parts. A girl who decides to disguise herself as a guy and audition for an all-male acapella group so she can have her chance on stage.

Noteworthy doesn't just use Jordan's disguise as a plot device, it uses her stunt to take an interesting look at gender roles and stereotypes, the spectrum of gender and sexual identity, and also class issues.

This book is funny and suspenseful and touching and also makes you think. What more could you ask?

Read more of my reviews on YA Romantics or follow me on Bloglovin

The FTC would like you to know that the publisher provided me a free advance copy of this book, that free books can be enjoyable or not, and other readers may disagree with my opinion.
Profile Image for Maddie.
557 reviews1,136 followers
November 18, 2018
I love that a Mulan-type storyline can't be written without some discussion of gender/sexuality, now. The scenes where Jordan questions her intentions with cross-dressing and how it reflects on her bisexuality were some of my favourite moments, because I know they wouldn't have happened five years ago.

Actually seeing male-male friendships that aren't based in 'that girl's a 7' or 'how much do you lift?' was such a breath of fresh air. Getting this outsider-as-insider look at how guy friendships work was really great, the banter was genuinely funny and all the boys felt distinct, despite there being seven of them.

If you love music, theatre, or Pitch Perfect, this is a great book to pick up, although it's a shame that you can't actually hear the arrangements!
Profile Image for Romie.
1,075 reviews1,272 followers
May 23, 2018
We walk into the next audition heads up and fearless, because no matter how many times we've heard no, we still imagine the answer will be yes, yes, yes.

I have no idea why I did wait so long to read this book. It's a mystery to me. In a way I'm sad I started this book in the middle of my finals, because if I hadn't I would have read it in a day.

At first I was afraid this book would only be about a girl cross-dressing to be part of an a cappella boy group and that's all. But it wasn't, it was so much more than that. It's about Jordan, a bisexual Chinese-American Junior at this arts focused academy. After being told many times that her voice is a no-no for regular musicals, she decides to audition for this all-boys a cappella group to finally have some recognition. And to do so, she has to dress as a boy.

I think it's extremely important that Jordan talked about what it meant to be a girl, how cross-dressing made her feel — guilty and powerful. Guilty because she thought about what transgender people had to go through everyday to be themselves, and powerful because for once in her life, she didn't feel like she had to be this fragile and invisible girls society had taught her to be. This book talks about genders, how we perceived them, the expectations we have and how society and its perception of genders can be a burden.

When Jordan dresses as a boy, she feels a lot more confident, she doesn't restrict her movements, she can be loud and she can take space. She doesn't have to worry if a boy is being her friend for who she is or because he actually likes her. That's something Jordan realises: she's been raised to be a certain way as a girl — the way we raise kids as either girls or boys, how we teach them that there are some ways of acting that are or not acceptable. Jordan is hyper aware of the expectations society puts on people considering their gender.

I really liked that Jordan being bisexual, discovering her bisexuality, wasn't the main part of the book. When the book begins, she already has her doubts, she's crushed on girls several times, but being surrounded by these boys kinda push her to check in with her feelings. It's not a book about Jordan coming to terms with her sexuality, it doesn't revolve around this, and I loved this? I'm so used to people belong to the lgbtqiap+ community to be simply described as their sexuality, nothing more. Jordan is bisexual, but it's not her main trait of character, there is depth. I really, really appreciated that.

I loved the Sharps. All of them. I loved that there weren't all white, or straight, or gorgeous af. They were all different, every single one of them had their distinctive voice. Jordan becoming friends with them was my favourite thing about the book. She was so comfortable with them, and happy, I loved every second of their friendships.

I honestly want to read every single book Riley Redgate is going to come up with? I'm ready.

Profile Image for Hari ~Brekker-Maresh~.
295 reviews261 followers
July 14, 2017
I seriously really like this!! It was both cute and completely hilarious, touching on some sensitive topics as well (sexuality, jealousy, monetary issues, relationships, etc). I completely enjoyed it. It was, in all honesty, a blind read, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Somewhat predictable, I guess, but not really. The direction the book went in was just amazing and beautiful.

I'd probably reread this, just for Jordan's hilariously precise sarcasm and comments.

Super fun read :)
Author 5 books31 followers
April 29, 2017
Jordan Sun is a theatre girl who’s low range makes it virtually impossible for her to land a role in her school’s productions. Solution? Cross-dress as a man, join an acapella group, and challenge the ways of the school.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Short Review:

Noteworthy is a contemporary novel that takes a couple of cliche ideas (girl dressing as a guy, acapella competitions, etc.) and brings them up in a new way. The story creeps its way through regular high school drama with some slightly less regular high school drama, but the captivating part of it is the characters—charming, diverse, and memorable. Despite all of this, though, the story disappoints in the realm of diversity, rushes the ending, and plays into a few too many tropes.

Long Review: May Contain Spoilers

The Good

Noteworthy isn’t a book about plot, but a book about the journey. The characters are captivating, unique, funny, and quirky, and you’ll find it hard not to love them. Even Jordan, the main protagonist, manages to avoid being that empty narrative voice that a lot of protagonists fill in YA novels. She’s awkward and funny, dedicated and passionate, and her navigation of the world makes everything colorful and bright.

The characters are diverse from POC, to several queer characters, to a boy with dyslexia who’s not at all shamed for it, to a main protagonist dealing with poverty and a disabled parent. The diversity is colorful and stretches into realms often overlooked. It’s #ownvoices on Chinese rep, and I loved both the portrayal of Jordan (Chinese) and Isaac (Japanese).

The Bad

It’s slow. Very slow. There are points when you wonder if there’s any point at all. The story follows a girl at a private arts school. Their biggest concerns tend to be college, grades, and auditions. Not very exciting.

The story also struggles a bit with pacing. It can be hard to follow how much time is elapsing, there are moments that should have been drawn out and so many moments that could have been condensed. Particularly the ending felt too clean and too rushed—one of those moments where everything’s tumultuous until the last ten pages where everything just suddenly works out.

The Problematic

The story brings in the idea of cross-dressing as appropriating transness. I thought this was a very important element to address. Unfortunately, it’s addressed for about a paragraph in which we’re bombarded with Jordan’s cis guilt over it and then never addressed again. There are no trans or non-binary characters and just about every character exhibits some elements of internalized transphobia. For instance, Jordan is instantly worried about showering around the guys because, if they see her naked, they’ll know she’s a girl. Despite bringing up transness in a nod at the beginning, Jordan doesn’t even consider the fact that seeing her naked could just mean that she’s trans. When the characters do find out that she’s a girl, their first thought is that she’s trans, which makes them visibly uncomfortable, and then angry once they realize she’s just been lying to them. This isn’t addressed.

On top of not having any nonbinary or trans voices in a story about an issue of trans appropriation and despite the cis guilt nonbinary readers have to sludge through, we also have the issue of the three queer characters. Three is a pretty good number in a YA book, but two of them fall into unfortunate tropes: the gay best friend whose life basically sucks and gets an unhappy ending, and the “repressed gay” who is an asshole and hurts everyone around him because he’s repressed. The only example of good queer representation in the novel is Jordan who is openly bi, and while I appreciate the use of the term “bi”, I do feel that the exploration of her sexuality was a bit lazy and under-explored given all the opportunity for it.

Finally, there’s the issue of heteronormativity. As a boy, Jordan is given two potential love interests. Her relationship with the boy love interest is well explored and intimate. Her relationship with the girl love interest is surface and almost entirely physical. When the girl finds out she’s a girl, she loses interest. The boy doesn’t express interest until he learns that she’s a girl. There’s just a huge amount of missed opportunity here and by giving the male/female ship so much more depth and exploration than the female/female one, I think Redgate really missed the mark on strong bi rep.


All in all, the characters of this story were great, but there were just so many weaknesses, particularly in representation, that really kept this novel from reaching it’s full potential.
Profile Image for Bárbara.
1,130 reviews71 followers
May 23, 2018
This book earned a total of 1.25 out of 5 stars rating from me. I just didn't feel it. Never. Not one single bit. At all.

I kept giving it chance after chance, almost forcing myself not to DNF it, but truth is, the writing was so bland, and the characters so basic and shallow- I just didn't care about anyone or any of the events. My chest felt hollowed by apathy during this reading experience, to an almost alarming point.

So: I'm sorry if this is a less than mediocre review. I don't think any more effort should be put from my part after such a reading experience. I'm just glad to be done.
Profile Image for Danika at The Lesbrary.
522 reviews1,285 followers
May 26, 2017
Absorbing, nuanced read.

It's interesting to read a crossdressing narrative that addresses the queer subtext. Jordan isn't trans or genderqueer, but the story acknowledges the existence of trans people, which honestly, is a first for me in a crossdressing narrative.

Jordan is bisexual, but that's a pretty small part of the story. There is no F/F romance in this (though there is a kiss), and the romance with a guy is only when he knows she is a girl.

As for the story itself, I was totally drawn into it. Jordan's double life, the arts academy environment, and the world of a capella was all fascinating. Add to that Jordan's struggle to fit into an elite private school on a scholarship while her family struggles to make rent as well as an ever-more-vicious rivalry with another a capella group, and I was hooked.

I will say that I felt like some of the members of the Sharpshooters blended together for me—only a few felt like fleshed out characters. I did really love Nihal and Jordan's relationship with him, though.

Overall: fun and engaging!
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,173 reviews1,307 followers
March 11, 2020
Full Review on The Candid Cover

4.5 Stars

Just by reading the summary of Noteworthy, I could tell that I was going to love it. I was not disappointed at all with this book containing some of my favourite components in YA, such as music and a boarding school. The main character is so empowering, and the narrator, Bailey Carr, is the perfect person to bring Jordan to life. This book is everything that I could ask for, and I’m sure that everyone will be able to relate.

This book honestly has everything that I could ask for: a boarding school setting, a cappella groups, a musical rivalry, a realistic cast of characters, and so much humour. It tells the story of a girl named Jordan whose low voice prevents her from getting a role in the school musical. So, she disguises herself as a boy and gets into an elite all male a cappella group. This book is kind of like She’s the Man, but with singing, and I never knew how much I needed a story like this one. I really wish that I had time to read it sooner, but I can safely say that Noteworthy is among my favourite reads this summer.

Jordan is such a great main character. After getting rejected, she is so determined to prove herself and literally stops at nothing to do it. Jordan is so brave to assume an identity that is entirely different from her own, and her experiences always result in hilarity. She also really bashes gender roles while disguised, and I loved the message that she sends in the book. Her character is so realistic and her personality makes her so easy to root for.

I’m so glad to say that my experience with Noteworthy as an audiobook was an incredible one. When I first hit play on the book, I actually recognized the narrator from Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything. Bailey Carr is such a perfect voice for Noteworthy since she is able to capture the sarcastic undertones of Jordan’s thoughts so well. She also does a surprisingly good job with the male voices, which couldn’t have been easy, considering there are 7 boys in the Sharpshooters. If you are looking for a good audiobook to listen to, I would definitely recommend this one for its perfect laugh-out-loud narration.

Noteworthy is the hilarious story of a girl who disguises herself as a boy to join a male a cappella group. I loved the boarding school setting and the main character’s relatability. The narration in the audiobook edition is perfectly sarcastic and adds even more enjoyment to the story. If you have yet to pick up this wonderful book, I strongly encourage you to do so as soon as possible!

Also, there is actually an OST for Noteworthy, which can be found here. It’s so cool to hear the songs mentioned in the book, so be sure to check it out!
Profile Image for Kay.
220 reviews
May 2, 2017
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for approving my request for a free digital copy in exchange for a review.

Noteworthy reminds me of a Usain Bolt 100m race: slow to start, fast in the middle and eases up before the finish line, but still ahead of the pack. Let's do a post-race analysis.


The first thing that jumped at me was the change in Redgate's writing style. When I read Seven Ways We Lie I found it enjoyable but not engaging. Noteworthy is the complete opposite. This book is utterly engaging. Flowery when it needs to be not never over the top. I found myself bookmarking numerous passages and sentences because I thought they were beautiful or simply extremely well written. This made for an entirely enjoyable reading experience. I look forward to seeing more of Riley as she matures as a writer.

Plot & Pacing:
Noteworthy has a Twelfth Night vibe going for it, but it's easy to love this even if you aren't into Shakespeare :)
However, I didn't find myself enjoying this until about halfway through, then, bam! Everything fell into place. I was a bit concerned about the representation of bisexuality and transsexuality (as the character would bind her chest in order to pass for a male), however, there is a passage that does address the concerns regarding appropriating from the trans community and I definitely respect and appreciate the manner in which it was handled. That is, educational and respectfully. Beyond my views as an ally I cannot adequately speak to the bisexual rep in this book but I would love to point out that this is own voices and it is evident that the author created the type of positive representation that she would like to see in YA. Moreover, I like the intricate approach to handling issues relating to wealth, status and familial dynamics. I often find parental figures in YA extremely one-dimensional but Redgate somehow manages to make the interactions between the MC and her parents seem honest to life, and the story is all the more better off for it.

The book also addresses issues of gender in a solid way without being preachy. It's interesting to see the MC lose herself in "a man's world." If you find yourself struggling with this book, press on. It's worth it.

Oh boy! One thing Redgate does extremely well is characters. I kept forgetting that they were high-schoolers though. My bad. Nonetheless, I loved all and want to adopt and protect them. Maybe except Dr. Caskey. Him I do not want to protect (or adopt).

Overall, Noteworthy, in my opinion, cements Redgate's status as a strong writer who creates beautiful characters. I wholeheartedly recommend Noteworthy and will continue to sing its praises.
Profile Image for fatma.
900 reviews570 followers
August 22, 2017
Thank you to ABRAMS Kids for providing me with an e-ARC of this (through NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review!!



Noteworthy starts with this line:
“Monday Morning was the worst possible time to have an existential crisis, I decided on a Monday morning, while having an existential crisis.”

Ok but how can you not be 10000% SOLD on a book that starts like this???

Noteworthy just managed to get so much so right: character voices, character development, character dynamics, representation, writing style—THE WHOLE SHEBANG. I will get to all that shortly, but I think by far the most standout feature of this book is Jordan's voice. It just blew me away, and as much of a platitude as that is, I truly mean it. It's at once hilarious and somber, brazen and insecure, grounded and emotional. The word that keeps coming back to me to describe it is AUTHENTIC. Frankly, I'm not really sure that I can tell you exactly what I mean by "authentic." It's a hazy word that's very much subjectively used and understood. For me, it's more of a I'll know it when I see it kinda thing. And what I saw when I read this book was authenticity, plain and simple. There is no other word I can think of that encapsulates Jordan's voice as much as authentic.

While we're on the subject of Jordan's voice, I think another thing that will (hopefully) strike many readers when they read this book is just how relatable Jordan feels. Again, a very subjective word. I'm always wary when people throw around a word like "relatable" because what's relatable to you might not necessarily be relatable to me, or anyone else. However, I think many—if not every—readers will be able to see at least a small part of themselves in Jordan. Personally, it's been so long since I've connected so strongly to a main character.

So many passages from Noteworthy had me internally screaming YES YES YEEEEESSSSS—a feeling I think my girl Meryl Streep here understands perfectly.

↑ This was basically me when I read these passages:
“Femininity had always felt inaccessible to me—my best attempt at it had always been putting on makeup and pretending to be more patient and graceful than I actually was, mostly for my mom's sake. Sometimes in middle school, feeling awkward had become my default. Because I wasn't patient. I wasn't graceful. I was prematurely tall, I wasn't skinny, I wasn't pretty, and I didn't care about any of it as much as I was supposed to. Square peg, meet round hole.”

“Kensington, probably because it was an arts school, was such an overwhelmingly liberal place when it came to social issues—I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have that sort of opinion around campus. Or anywhere, really. It was a strange thing to have an opinion on somebody else's existence.

“There is no world where 'you're wrong' is an acceptable answer to 'this hurts.'”

“It was downright depressing, the lengths it took to feel special when you wrote yourself out on paper. All As? Who cared? That was the standard here. Some shows, some activities? Big deal. How were you changing the world?
Sometimes, when I wasn't too busy, I wondered why we had to change the world so early.”

Honestly, I could just go on and on and on. The words speak for themselves.

I think Jordan's brilliance as a character is indicative of not only how well Redgate has written her, but of her writing abilities more broadly. Redgate just gets it; I don't know how else to put it. She writes characters that feel so damn real, not to mention SO GLORIOUSLY TEENAGE-RY (that may or may not be a word I made up for my convenience). There are a lot of gems in the YA genre—Noteworthy being one of them—but there are also some YA books that get teenage voices horribly wrong, like cringe-worthy levels of wrong (*MUST RESIST URGE TO THROW SHADE*). But the tight-knit, ridiculously lovable squad that Redgate introduces us to in this book is just perfect. (Some might even say Pitch perfect...ha get it because it's a book about a capella and singing and...I'll just escort myself out.) By the end of the book this group of characters just felt like family.

(my face reading books that attempt to recreate teenage voices but fail miserably)

(my face reading Noteworthy because Redgate nailed it with recreating teenage voices)

When I say I loved all the characters, I mean I loved all the characters. There is not an undeveloped or flat character in sight in this book. All of them have their quirks and mannerisms and distinct personalities and experiences and it was all just wONDERFUL. The Sharpshooter guys reminded me so much of my own squad of friends and how comfortable and dumb and happy we are around each other. And don't get me started with the group texts. There were a lot of laughs uttered by yours truly while reading those texts.

Speaking of laughing, this book is sorta funny. And by "sorta funny" I mean VERY FUNNY. Redgate really knows how to achieve that delicate balance between being serious and light-hearted. Noteworthy is not serious enough to be a Sad Book, but it's also not fluffy enough to be a Happy-Go-Lucky Book either. Like I said, it strikes a perfect balance between the two.

Onto the representation. Lemme give you The Rep Rundown for Noteworthy:
- Jordan is Chinese-American and bi, and the representation for both of those is ownvoices (YES!). Her family is also poor and her dad is paraplegic, and those are experiences that Jordan reflects on a lot throughout the book.
- There is a Japanese-American character, a black character, a Sikh character, a dyslexic character, and a character with anxiety. (I think I've covered them all but I might've missed some.) One thing I'll mention is that while a lot of the representation was explicit, some of it was kinda vague. I didn't even know some characters were POCs until I read others' reviews.
- Since Jordan cross-dresses in order to get into the Sharpshooters, an all-male a capella group, there's also a lot of talk about trans experiences and how they differ from Jordan's experiences.
- Plus so much amazing discussion about gender roles and fitting in and not fitting in and how all of that takes its toll on a person.
- Basically, there's A LOT OF REP IN THIS BOOK, and it made me really happy to see that. Redgate obviously put a lot of effort into respectfully representing these identities, and I think all of that really comes through in her book.
(- okay this isn't representation but I just had to mention that one of the characters has a man bun!!!! man buns are very rare to find in a book ok!!)

Okay, bear with me here. Last point I promise. I wanna talk about one more thing: the writing style. I don't think it's ethereal or beautiful or stunning, and I don't think it's a fault that it isn't, because those kinds of styles are not what this book needed. Instead, Redgate's style is stripped down, but never plain, emotive, but never saccharine. Like most things in this book, it strikes a perfect balance between being straightforward, comedic, reflective, and heart-warming.

Oohhh and also all the songs featured in this book are actual songs that Riley Redgate wrote!!! How cool is that?? As if we needed more proof that Redgate poured her heart and soul into this book. You can find the songs here. They're really good.

I know I've said this before but I'll say it again: Riley Redgate gets it. And I think Noteworthy is the biggest testament to that. I wholeheartedly loved this book in all its endearing warmth and camaraderie. I can tell you now that you will want to read Noteworthy when it comes out (ON MAY 2ND!! VERY SOON!!). Give it a chance, because I really don't think you'll be disappointed.
Profile Image for Eri.
595 reviews174 followers
December 25, 2017
So far, reading wise 2017 has been rather excellent to me. Add this to my favorites pile, I'm definitely picking up a copy when it's pubbed because I am enchanted.

I have nothing but glowing praise for this book, it hits high on everything, from the writing to the characters to the relationships and storyline.

I really liked getting into Jordan's head and seeing the way her immersion into being a boy changed and adapted her perspective on topics. I related a lot to the pressure she put on herself through her parents' expectations and her own perfectionist nature, especially with the conception of being that Asian girl with the intense mom/dad.

Now onto the other characters, the boys. The Sharpes are overall lovely and imagine my utter delight to meet Isaac Nakahara, because it's honestly rare to see Japanese characters without it being an issue book. His heritage otherwise, he's my favorite character. Charming and attractive, he's the bonafide leader of the group. There's Trav, the dedicated and intense arranger of the group. Next is Nihal, who is a sweetheart, only wanting the best for everyone. Jon Cox, who seems like a poster child for a private school boy, yet is also kind. Mama, his best friend, passionate about Haydn and protective. Rounding out the group are the two freshmen, Erik and Marcus.

Of course there's the main dynamic of the Sharpes together, but within that, the individual friendships of the boys was a delight to read. My favorite friendships are the ones between "Julian" and Nihal, and the one that "Julian" shares with Isaac. Spending hours rehearsing, it was nice to see the bond that these boys + girl share with each other, and I felt immensely sad once I finished because I'd fallen in love with these characters.

This book was poignant in a way that I haven't seen much in contemporary YA books that don't brand themselves as issue books, and I enjoyed it. It tackles topics that most books don't even bother to flesh out, yet doesn't neglect the characters themselves. Jordan is bi, and I can't vouch for the accuracy of the rep, but being an #ownvoices book, it felt like it was handled respectably.

And the romance!!! I loved the ship in this book and it was honestly so nice to see Jordan move past her breakup with Michael and find someone who actually deserves her.

Anyway, please pick up this book when you can because it is great.

full review to come closer to release date
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,938 reviews1,551 followers
August 4, 2017
I'm in complete agreement with Melissa's review and she goes into many of it's very fine points. I'd only add one thing and that's the conscious use of class-consciousness that I think worked very well to the benefit of the story.

Jordan is a scholarship student in an exclusive private High School. So you'd expect there to be some class-conscious elements to the story. And there are. But Redgate put those elements in service to the story putting it mostly in the background and drawing it forward in subtle ways I hadn't expected. In other words, Jordan's lack of money is never held against her and who has and doesn't have money is mostly unexpressed and is never used as a weapon or crutch for simple conflict. Instead, it surfaces in odd moments in powerful ways (like Jordan's wonder at a friend's "cabin" retreat) that show the contrast and differences while still highlighting that these are all people in their formative stage trying to figure out who they are and what they really care about.

Which is why I see this story as an incredible achievement. It blends so many elements that we use to separate ourselves from others (gender, sexuality, identity, class, money, tradition, heritage, family—oddly enough, never race... I'll have to think about that) and shows these mostly-well-intentioned people working through them to figure out how to connect and form friendships and build trust even as they suffer setbacks and betrayals and misunderstandings. This is so outstanding that I know I'll be thinking about this story for days, even weeks to come.

A note about Chaste: There's no sex in this story. Like, at all. There is kissing and the occasional sleeping in proximity, but clothes are maintained throughout and no body parts are molested. Which isn't to say there might not be uncomfortable parts as figuring out your sexuality is an important part of the story (including Jordan discovering that she's probably bisexual, and does so in a, well, practical, lips-on manner).
Profile Image for Hallie.
954 reviews124 followers
July 30, 2017
4.5 rounded up because this wasn't perfect, but I loved it hard.

Review to come (shortly) and discussions to come too? (Hint. Nudge.)

I'm still slightly at a loss for how to review this, but it's all for the best of reasons. For one thing, this immediately hit my ‘THIS is why I love YA’ (when I do) list, and closely related, it's very funny and still one of the more thoughtful looks at identity I've read recently. It's in that YA love category in no small measure because the protagonist’s age and somewhat neglectful boarding school environment allow her the freedom to pass as a boy that most adults wouldn't have. But the issues of gender and sexual identity she’s dealing with are most definitely not necessarily restricted to the teen years. It's also just a fabulous thought experiment, to tease over how your own view of your character would have changed had you experienced life for a time as the opposite gender. It's done with enormous sensitivity too, as I hope I might manage to indicate by a few quotes.

If you read the blurb and think of the film Pitch Perfect with a few more smart YA rom-coms and crossdressing thrown in, you wouldn't be wrong, although you wouldn't be led to expect quite as much as this delivers either. I mention that because when you get past the really funny beginning to the inevitable things-go-sour section, you might worry, as I did, where it was going. Again, I think that’s a *strength*, because the problems are far more profound than whether the Sharpshooters will win the competition, or a typical YA rom-com misunderstanding for the heroine and romantic interest. My ‘not perfect’ rating does relate to this, as I felt there was a bit of imbalance in the degree of antagonism the Sharpshooters faced from a rival group.

Before I throw out a few quotes, I just have to point out something that needs to be said about this book every time, even though it's been said a lot. It's diverse, both in having a bi, ‘Asian kid’ protagonist, in the diversity of the school (race and sexuality, NOT class), and in the sharply observant way that Jordan looks at that diversity, and at the one that ultimately threatens her most of all: coming from a family that's poor, has a disabled person, but isn't ‘poor enough’. It's Jordan’s father who's disabled, and although Jordan is living right across the country from them, the family’s experience is just so heartbreaking and well done.

[I marked some passages to quote, and have already spent a lot of time getting sucked in to wonderful quotes in the pages around the marked ones. Clearly this will be a great reread!]

[This is from when Jordan has looked for advice online on how to pass as a boy, and suddenly realises a lot of the information comes from trans people. She thinks about the two trans kids she knows who are out, one who came out and started to transition during the school year.]

It stunned me how awkward a bunch of well-meaning people could be. There was something exceptionally clumsy about a bunch of cis kids trying to act nonchalant about her transition, rotating between aggressive supportiveness, curiosity, and intense silence around the topic for fear of saying the wrong thing. Trying to normalize—but not to ignore. Trying to be chill—but not distant. Things had grown steadily less weird as we come to the collective realisation that this was not, shockingly, even sort of about us.
[…] I hadn't given it serious thought, how my act contrasted with the way some trans kids lived their lives. I was on a website that trans people used for their day-to-day. I felt like I was poaching, fishing earnest resources out of this site and turning them into ruses to trick the Sharps. [...]
I thought of Nihal’s contemplative air and Isaac’s carelessness. I thought of Erik’s peacocking, showing off every talent he had, and Marcus’s desperation to please, and I tried to make sense of the possibility that any of these normal, decent-seeming people could secretly hate an entire subset of the Kensington population. It didn't compute to me. And it struck me, all of a sudden, how incredibly lucky I was not to have to worry about those opinions when I walked out into the world every morning.

I just love how she thinks that, while having to worry about so many other opinions when she ‘walks out into the world every morning’.

As Jordan is beginning to know the guys, and relish the feeling of being accepted, despite intending to keep an emotional distance, she starts thinking about the difference of presenting as a guy.
I, Jordan Sun, was pulling off the most outlandish acting performance in Kensington history […] I wasn't just pulling it off, either, I was enjoying it, maybe too much. I liked the invisibility of being a boy, inhabiting a bigger and broader space. I was feeling less apologetic about it by the day.
I also love the fact that Redgate made these guys very different and distinct, and with a minimum of two layers of privilege over Jordan, but doesn't make them just a mass of privileged, arrogant God's-gift-on-legs. Some very crappy behaviour happens, but you want only good for the Sharps, individually and as a group, and that works so well for this story.

Another time Jordan thinks back to her ex-boyfriend’s ‘freak out’ when he found out she'd kissed a girl, demanding why she didn't tell him she was into girls, which she said was because she didn't know if she’s into girls.
. I hadn't had an answer then. I didn't have one now. I just didn't know. I'd never been sure if I was attracted to girls, or whether it was a too-strong awareness of how attractive I thought girls might be to other people. Three or four times, I'd had what I chalked up as weirdly intense friend-crushes; I'd meet a girl, get flustered, get fascinated, and for months, I'd want only to be around her.
Where was the line, though? Did I want to be around her, did I want to be her, or did I want to be with her?

Wow. I was in my late thirties before I even heard anyone say a thing about there being a spectrum of sexual identities. Granted, I'm both ancient and particularly stupid, but I literally worried every single time I'd get more enjoyment out of looking at the female lead in a film than the male one, convinced I had to either just ‘want to be her’ or I'd be a lesbian, meaning I couldn't have the life I'd always wanted of husband and kids. (I'd already lost the former and wouldn't have lost my kids even if I were to have had a lesbian relationship, but you know - this is part of that total binary thinking. And the stupid.)

One last funny and perfect observation to end with.
Super lesbian, said some of the Kensington kids, knowingly, which was funny, since Carrie was married to the guy who worked every other weekend. Not that they actually cared enough to find out. With so many queer kids at Kensington, people sometimes got weirdly comfortable, like they had a free pass to say anything they wanted about sexuality. I guess it was tempting to stick a rainbow-colored “Ally” pin on your backpack and call it a day, as if that were the endpoint, not the starting line.
Profile Image for Heidi Heilig.
Author 5 books1,313 followers
January 3, 2017
An honest, contemplative book about truth and lies--a story about the things people hide to find themselves--and a love letter to music.

Jordan, a Chinese-American scholarship student at prestigious Kensington Performance School, has never found her place in the spotlight. When an opportunity arises to audition for a famous a capella group--and possibly tour Europe, provided they win the winter competition--she sees a chance to prove herself--to find a place where she belongs--and to finally make her parents proud. The only catch is the a capella group is all-male.

Disguising herself as a boy, she infiltrates the group, hoping to let her voice ring out while keeping the rest of herself hidden. But that's harder than she expected in such a close knit group, and secrets start to come out--and not only hers.

With lyrical writing about snowy days and swoony kisses along with beautiful musings on friendship, fitting in, and gender/toxic masculinity, Redgate's sophomore book was unputdownable.

Representation (possible spoilers, as some of these are revealed throughout the book?): MC is bi, and is Chinese american. Her family is on SNAP/Calfresh and her father uses a wheelchair. Her close friends in the group include a gay Sikh boy, a Japanese boy, and a fat boy. The music director and Jordan's ex, Michael, are both black.
Profile Image for Atlas.
687 reviews27 followers
April 29, 2018
As I stood there in that derelict husk of a theatre, I felt like I'd got lost in between my lives, and the road ahead looked long and strange and poorly lit.

* * * *
4 / 5

I know nothing about a cappella beyond watching Pitch Perfect and literally nothing about performing arts schools. Despite this, Noteworthy was an absolute treat. The main character, Jordan Sun, disparaged by not making the musical for the third year running, disguises herself as a guy and auditions for the Sharpshooters, an all-male a cappella octet. Soon her life splits in two: one half concerned with passing her classes and making sure no one connects Jordan Sun and Julian Zhang, and the other half diving into the world of a cappella and the Sharps boys. Noteworthy is funny, mature, and deals sensitively with topics like the differences in male and female socialisation, being gay and bisexual, and chasing your dreams. The vibe in the Sharpshooters is a little like The Raven Boys, so if you liked that dynamic, try Noteworthy!

Monday morning was the worst possible time to have an existential crisis, I decided on a Monday whilst having an existential crisis.

Jordan is a Chinese-American (like the author, I believe) student, voice too deep to get any big singing roles, but with cut hair and her height, well, she can pass herself off a guy. Her parents are fighting, her mother just got laid off, her father is trying to pay off hospital bills, and money is always tight. But in the Sharps, Jordan finds a home despite her attempts to keep the boys at arms distance, they creep their way into her life. There's Isaac, leader of the group, charming and wild and always down to do something a bit risky. Then there's Trav (my personal favourite), musical arranger and the stern, guiding hand of the group. Nihal is quieter, Sikh, and trying to manage his own personal issues. There's also Jon Cox, Marcus, Erik, and Theodore.

This disguise looked convincing enough to turn me invisible I was just some guy. Anonymous. Nobody. The world saw exactly what it wanted to see. Finally, it wanted to see me.

This book is also really funny ("she couldn't be pursuing me - I'd told her I was dating Bertha. I would never cheat on Bertha. We had a beautiful relationship") and relatable. Trying to hide crippling cramps and using toilet paper as a pad? Girl, we've all been there. There's a ridiculous dude rivalry between the all-male a cappella groups, involving secret bases. But it also tackles a lot of real issues: when she's a guy, Jordan realises the way that guys are treated differently and the way men can talk when they think women aren't around, not cruelly but with the kind of off-hand comments that suggest women are lesser. There's also a really frank examination of what it can feel like to be poor.

I did feel a bit tricked in that I was expecting a book set in university. Clearly my fault for not reading the synopsis properly! I mistakenly thought "college" meant university and not boarding school... This meant that the characters were younger, around sixteen, and their issues revolved around cliques, weed, and parents. But Noteworthy was a delightfully mature read, so once I readjusted my view of Jordan as a teenager, I was enthralled.

Redgate sensitively walked the line between being trans and what Jordan was doing as a clearly non-trans individual. What I do wish, however, is that Redgate had put in a couple of lines about how binding is terrible for your health. She writes that there are "health risk of strapping your chest back with ACE bandages", but the truth is that there is no safe way to bind: they all do damage - compressions shirts (like Jordan uses), too-small sports bras, bandages - none of these are good for you. The only safe way is a well fitting sports bra, which won't really flatly compress your chest because that isn't the point of them. This is something I wish I had known as a young teenager and I am slightly concerned that Redgate is suggesting that there are safe ways to bind when there aren't. On the whole I thought her tackling of the issue was great, I just would have appreciated a throwaway line about this.

"Isaac, Jon Cox, and Theodore are delightful people who tend to get so far up their own asses they lose sight of daylight"

My other criticism is that about halfway through or a little more, the rest of the Sharpshooters kind of drop out of the plot. There's not much mention of Trav, Nihal, Mama, etc. for quite a while until they pop back up at the end in time for the competition. This is particularly a shame since for the first half of the book the relationships between Jordan and the Sharps were being really well developed and then were just palmed off to the side, behind Jordan's money and parent troubles. In this vein, I couldn't really keep Jon Cox, Erik or Marcus distinct in my head; Trav, Isaac and Nihal were definitely the standouts of the Sharps. Apparently some of them, other than Isaac, were also not-white, which I hadn't noticed because the physical descriptions were really sparse.

It took being your own to want somebody else. Now I could, and it was drowning me, and Victoria was mint and Isaac was a smile and every person I knew was such a work of art

What I did like a lot was Jordan's exploration of her bisexuality and her subsequent romance. I think her difficulty in sorting out whether she just liked women or wanted to be with women was very poignant and realistic, I related a lot. Her romance also developed quite naturally out of a friendship. This was amazingly done, to the point where I didn't know for the first half of the book which one she would end up with (I knew there was a romance and was keeping an eye out for it), because her friendships with Trav, Isaac, and Nihal are all fully developed. Massive kudos to the author for this!

Reading this book does require quite a lot of suspension of belief: even if Jordan could successfully pass herself off as a guy in front of strangers, there's no way she wouldn't be caught. What about admin? You can't create a fake persona and get that through any sort of school system, and the amount of forms and paperwork student groups require can be insane. So prepare to withhold your "there's no way that would actually work" comments and delve into the immensely fun and well-written novel that is Noteworthy.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book.

Read this review and more on my blog: https://atlasrisingbooks.wordpress.co...
Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 58 books746 followers
August 1, 2017
I'm never comfortable with books in which a lie is at the center, especially if it's a lie I think is either justified or reasonable (as opposed to someone lying for evil reasons). I get too tense worrying about what will happen when the lie is inevitably exposed. So it took me a little while to relax and enjoy this book about a young woman who, given a once in a lifetime opportunity, disguises herself as a boy to grab hold of it with both hands.

It helped that I am a low alto like Jordan and have suffered with the so-called alto parts that still require you to sing notes God intended only for sopranos. I've been singing tenor for a couple of years now, though not in choir, and it's frustrating to see all these beautiful parts written in my range that are intended for men. Jordan is told up front by one of the faculty at her exclusive performing arts high school that she'll probably never be cast in a musical because of her range and vocal quality. When she sees the notice of an spot opening up with the Sharpshooters, the school's most renowned (and all-male) a cappella octet, Jordan dares pretend to be a boy and auditions--and makes the cut.

Noteworthy has a lot to say about gender identity, but not, I think, in the way you'd expect. Jordan is cross-dressing, not trans, but as she looks online for advice on how to pass as male, she realizes she's at the intersection of other people's sexuality and ends up questioning what it really means to be female, or male, beyond simple biology. In the course of the novel, Jordan discovers she's bisexual, but she also recognizes that certain feminine identifiers and behaviors have never been part of her personality. Is she capable of passing as male because she's "lacking" in feminine characteristics? Jordan's experiment teaches her more about herself than she'd imagined when she initially thought it was as simple as cutting her hair and binding her breasts.

I loved Jordan's interactions with, and friendships with, the other boys in the Sharpshooters. Not all of them are well-realized, and Isaac, Trav, and Nihal stand out in my memory where the others fade into the background. But Jordan finds in this group a kind of friendship she's never had. The moment where Nihal (talking to someone else) refers to her as his best friend really got me. And Isaac...he's complex, and beautiful, and his friendship with Jordan's alter ego Julian, different from Jordan's with Nihal, warmed my heart.

I felt the revelation of Jordan's identity was too fast and in some ways too easy. Her financial situation almost felt more important than the question of whether she'd be allowed to stay with the Sharpshooters. But in another sense, the resolution of the truth fit with everything the Sharpshooters had revealed themselves to be over the course of the book.

I find I'm still thinking about the story weeks after reading the book, so I'm giving it all five stars. Very satisfying on so many levels.
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