Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Publisher: Amulet Books

Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/LGBTQIA

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Cover = Goodreads

*HUGE thanks to Amulet Books, Netgalley, and Riley Redgate for the eGalley of Noteworthy in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

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.

In another case of “The Goodreads Blurb Does It Best” lol, I’ll try my best not to reiterate what’s listed above. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate is one of the most unique Young Adult books I’ve come across in a long time. I knew I had to request it when I saw it pop up on Netgalley simply because I am a big fan of the Pitch Perfect movies & most recently the Pentatonix. As a matter of fact I am listening to Bohemian Rhapsody by Pentatonix while typing up this review 😉 Acapella as a whole has always interested me possibly because as mentioned in this book, there’s humor in it. The idea of a student cross dressing in order to join a all male Acapella group & leading a double life…sounds exhausting no? Jordan Sun manages to pull off try outs for Kensington’s uber popular & exclusively all male Acapella group the Sharpshooters securing the 8th spot in the group.

She goes on to live on campus as both Jordan and Julian successfully since for the most part, she has no friends on campus. After her in school boyfriend broke up with her, Jordan realized that she had made him her center focus & that with him gone, she is pretty much alone on campus. Jordan has a small group of gal pals back in California, but life in New York attending Kensington Blair has pretty much isolated her from them. Attending Kensington also hasn’t been without it’s challenges, Jordan’s parents are struggling to keep food on the table & we see her spend holiday breaks alone on campus to avoid burdening her parents with the cost of travel. Jordan’s dad is also disabled & the subpar healthcare system in the United States is briefly touched upon. We see Jordan going through her day to day routine while handling the very sobering reality that is her financial situation.

“The problem was the money this place asked us to drop on textbooks and supplies, even those of us on financial aid. A lot of other boarding schools were adopting full-ride scholarship options that paid for books, travel, laptops-the whole deal. Kensington hadn’t caught on yet. Every semester, I calculated my textbook costs, usually three or four hundred dollars, and prayed it was offset by the money my parents weren’t spending to feed me”

In getting accepted into the Sharpshooters as Julian, she finds a home away from home with a distinct group of guys. We get to see Jordan’s perspective as “one of the guys” when she’s dressed as Julian. Jordan’s insider pass grants her access to male friendships & bonds as well as the first stirrings of sexism in young males. As we see Jordan grow accustomed & more comfortable living as Julian, we see her question her sexuality & identity. Noteworthy touched on so many subjects that are not written about as much in YA making it a much more relatable read.

Noteworthy has to have one of the most unique and awesome cast of characters in YA at the moment…I’ve convinced myself of this lol. Starting with our main protagonist Jordan aka Julian a Chinese-American student attending a boarding school in NYC, I’ll be honest and say that it took me a bit to warm up to her during the beginning chapters. I almost felt like she was in a haze going through every day life which I pinned most of on her stress levels lol. It was hard to connect with her in the beginning but then you see her start to develop & show her personality and I started to look forward to her coming & goings. She does mention that as Julian, she feels a confidence that is missing as Jordan. The Sharpshooters are as follows:

Trav- leader of the Sharpshooters, also composes pieces for the group & takes his position very seriously (barely cracks a smile lol)

Jon Cox- is your typical popular guy with good looks & a little muscle only he is described as having an operatic voice

Mama or Theodore-My 2nd fave, Theodore was given the nickname Mama for his tendency to clean. He is described as a big lovable guy who also happens to be Jon Cox’s roommate & best friend. He’s described as having the type of deep voice you’d find in movie trailers

Nihal-hands down my FAVE of the group! Nihal is also a Tenor 1 like Jordan, he introduces himself as being Sikh & not Muslim, Indian & from Jersey who wears his turban. Nihal is very outspoken, sarcastic (LOVE!), and loyal

Isaac-Trav’s right hand man, is described as being a tall man bun rocking type of guy. He’s lively & often times the glue that holds everyone together

The 2 Rooks aka Freshmen Erik & Marcus- these 2 guys get stuck with all the grunt work since they’re freshmen & pretty much operate as one.
Riley Redgate gave each of these characters a distinct voice making it very easy to follow each one & learn their individual character traits. All very well fleshed out, these characters were a ton of fun 😉
 With Noteworthy, Redgate has gifted the YA genre with a magically diverse book. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel reading about a cisgender character cross dressing. These concerns are addressed when Jordan thinks of the Transgender community and how they’d feel if her secret of cross dressing for a spot in the group were to be revealed. In many ways, this book felt very much aware of the tough topics it was trying to grasp. I appreciated that it included many issues that we often do not see in YA such as socioeconomics, Healthcare, and disability as it pertains to the head of household. I also really appreciated the Chinese-American cultural experience we got a glimpse of through Jordan’s character. The fact that this is a Own Voices YA book only added to my love for it. On another note, I do wish that Jordan’s sexuality was explored a bit more because we were seeing her question her sexuality as well as the gender she identifies with.  This is one of the reasons I docked it a star, Jordan’s development towards the end felt unaddressed. The other reason would be strictly pacing which was a bit slow in the beginning. I’ve heard other readers say that Noteworthy is a much quieter read than it appears & I’d have to say that I agree. Around the 40% mark it does pick up & maintains until the very last page. I highly recommend Noteworthy to lovers of diversity & Acapella 😉

Have any of you awesome bookworms picked up a copy of Noteworthy?  if you’ve already read it, which character was your favorite? and why? <3<3<3

Author: LairOfBooks

"I didn't choose the Book Life, the Book Life chose me"

18 thoughts on “Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate”

    1. Thank you Kim! I’ve been trying to control my “need” to click on that request button myself smh 😩😩😩 its soooo hard though! Lol smh. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did when you get around to it 😃💕

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This definitely sounds like such a great read! I somehow missed this at Netgalley and I probably shouldn’t request any new titles, but you have me seriously tempted. Sounds like another Riley Redgate winner! Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review for this book Lilly. You’ve pretty much, like every other review I’ve seen for Noteworthy, convinced me I need to get started on this book as soon as possible (as soon as I get my hands on a copy that is). I’m really glad your concerns about a cisgender character cross dressing were addressed, I guess given the book and the subject it must have been important for that to be written about, especially considering the fact that all the other diverse aspects of this book were amazing.
    Again great review, I hope when I get around to this one I enjoy it as much as you did! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Beth, that concern aside, Noteworthy delivered an excellent diverse book. It hit on so many topics we don’t typically see in YA. I hope you enjoy this one when you get around to it 😃💕

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love your review Lily! The acapella aspect of this book really caught my eye when I first heard about it, but I like (from reading your review) that it also manages to tackle a lot of issues without it seeming too overwhelming. Plus the characters sound like a lot of fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This book really swept you away, didn’t it? It sounds like it did! I love the premise of this novel. That said, I’m glad you mentioned how Julian/Jordan addresses cross-dressing. This used to be a common trope in literature (hellos Shakespeare!), but with how at the fore the transgender community is in our society… well, I can understand why someone might want to omit this trope. But that cast– ooh! I am already in love with them and I haven’t read it yet. Bring it on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jackie, & yes it was so close to being a 5 star if it weren’t for the fact that Jordan aka Julian’s sexuality played a huge role & then was sort of not mentioned towards the end. She saw herself in many situations that left her deep in thought & I guess I really wanted to see where that left her. Still a very solid read & highly enjoyable. The cast is the BEST part, I ended up getting so attached 😆thanks again, hope you enjoy when you get around to it 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  5. With as much popularity surrounding shows like Glee and movies like Pitch Perfect, I am not surprised this book is getting lots of positive hype. I was surprised to see that this YA book seems to tackle some “heavier topics” since I just assumed it was a “fluffy YA contemporary.” It’s nice to see there is some depth to it. I have to know something though… why does she use the name Julian when Jordan is a unisex name? I would have kept it Jordan for less confusion lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it’s def not a fluffy contemporary at all. As a matter of fact, its tone is very sobering. I didn’t expect it to tackle some of the issues it did but I am glad it went there. I’m not sure either why she chose Julian since Jordan is unisex. Then again, names nowadays aren’t really indicative of gender. I found this odd & almost as if the author herself didn’t realize what she was doing. Or maybe she did? Great, thanks Amanda now you’ve got me thinking 😂😂😂


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