Author: Riley Redgate
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Source: For Review
Purchase: Amazon•TBD (affiliate link)
It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.
Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped ... revered ... all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.
I was expecting more from Noteworthy given the premise and the adorable cover. It was still a really cute and enjoyable read though. Jordan is in her Junior year at Kensington and just lost out on another role in a school musical due to her low voice and her less than feminine appearance. Jordan is discouraged, but she’s not giving up. Then she sees that the campus all-male a capella group needs a new member with her voice range. Cue the crossdressing!
Noteworthy is pretty slow paced, since it takes us through an entire school semester. Jordan goes from a nobody who can’t get a role, to someone with friends and a sense of purpose. I loved that the author addressed that Jordan disguising herself for three months isn’t going to be easy. She has to flatten her chest, purchase boy clothes on her tight budget, and cut her hair since a wig can shift or fall off to become Julian. Jordan doesn’t just throw on a t-shirt and try to sound like a dude. She puts some effort into her disguise and does research.
Although, I found her extra efforts to be feminine while she was Jordan strange. She puts on extra makeup, gets a long wig, and starts wearing dresses and heels. If she didn’t look this way before, wouldn’t it draw more attention to her to do it now? I get that she wants to look even less like Julian, but her reasoning didn’t make sense. And she interacts with exactly zero characters as Jordan, so it wasn’t like there was anyone to notice the changes. It isn’t explained until the very end why she’s been alone for two years, so it bugged me for much of the book. I did like the reason though, since it’s nothing that I’ve read before.
Noteworthy also talks about sexuality and gender identity a lot. Of course, while dressed as Julian, Jordan is treated differently than she is as Jordan. She’s much more aware of the way she moves in order to blend in. I found it interesting how she says she feels more free and more like herself when she’s Julian, but not that she believes she’s a boy or even any gender that isn’t female. There is a brief discussion of how what Jordan is doing and feeling is different than being transgender, but nothing substantial. Jordan also discovers that she’s bisexual. But since this isn’t a romance, it isn’t focused on too much although there is kissing.
I enjoyed Noteworthy, but it was a lot more serious than I thought it was going to be. Not that that’s a bad thing. It just seemed like it was going to be this fast, fun, and funny story about a girl infiltrating a male dominated world and blowing them away. It kind of does that, but it’s more about Jordan figuring herself out.