Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
NOTEWORTHY is a poignant story that explores bisexuality, manhood & womanhood, and the a capella environment. We start out with Jordan Sun, who is a junior trying to find her place in the world of Kensington. She feels like she's failed, because she's got rejected for a role every single time that she's auditioned for the musical. Plus to add to that, she is an Alto 2, which doesn't fit the regular "feminine" voice range, so it's seen like she's a lone wolf floating on an island.
One day she gets an email, that tells her that there's an opening into the Sharpshooters, an elite a capella group who is worshiped by the student on campus. Jordan wants nothing else then to feel a part of something, to stop feeling so isolated. There's only one problem: since the beginning of the groups's history, this has only been a male-only group.
Our main protagonist Jordan, feels so authentic, yet different then every other "rich" kid that's on campus. She Chinese America, has a taller height than average, and feels confident. There's realistic financial problems that she has to face; she came from a poor and underprivileged family, her father is disabled and mother has part-time job, and she's riding on a full scholarship and doesn't have the money for plane tickets.
This type of nuanced discussion needs to be happened more and more in YA. Bringing out the shame of relying on government programs to buy food and the inability to pay for college, perhaps help other people. They feel like they're not alone, they see Jordan that is "other" yet it also seems like the things that she's going through are realistic. This is reality for many people (like Jordan), and it needs to be more represented in the YA lit. that we are reading.
As a side note, the subplot of this book is romance, but it's definitely not the main focus. Her bisexuality isn't the main focus either, there isn't that much attention in that department. I'm ok with the author choosing not to really focus on that, because this is her artistic work, and Jordan's sexuality is only one part of her life.
What would really bother me is when I hear readers say (view spoiler)[that they're upset that she's bisexual and the story ended up with a m/f relationship (hide spoiler)]. No way, you can't just go and invalidate that big part of their identity. You know what, I honestly did not feel the chemistry between her and her love interest at the end of the book, but she can be with whoever she wants. period. I can respect that and her decisions completely.
I could really connect to all of her anecdotes about being a theater kid and trying to audition her way into musicals and getting rejected. That's where the author hooked me on being deeply connected with Jordan as a character. I loved how Redgate put an emphasis on singing and a capella group, and how everything isn't as it looks like. There are points of rivalry and struggles and tension between the group members, which makes their humanity shine through. I mean, we all get that drama happens in choir, right?
**Thanks to NetGalley the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own**
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