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.
Thank you very much to Amulet Books, who sent me a copy of Noteworthy via Netgalley in exchange for my review. These are my honest opinions and have been in no way affected.
It will probably come as no surprise to you to know that Noteworthy was one of my most anticipated books of 2017. A bisexual girl goes undercover to infiltrate an all-male, historically elite a cappella group? YES PLEASE. I had huge expectations for this – and I am so, so pleased to say that this was everything I could have wanted.
Noteworthy is so much more diverse than I thought it would be. Jordan is bisexual (YAY!) but she is also Chinese-American, and comes from a working-class background. The plot hinges on the realities of the expenses of medical care in America, as her family can no longer afford her place at Kensington, a posh arts school. A lot of time is spent on Jordan’s background, and how she feels out of place in the elite setting of Kensington. The rest of the book was relatively light, so these parts really stood out. Her best friend Nihal (a tiny cinnamon roll, omg I love him) is also a Sikh, and comes out as gay halfway through the book.
I love how the book is so consistently aware of itself. For example, when Jordan decides to act as a boy, she uses tips from a website for trans people. I was so impressed with this part, because Jordan feels intensely uncomfortable about how she is playing a part – but trans people are not. She feels she is appropriating a trans experience that she has no right to, which is something I have never read in cross-dressing narratives. (However, I am cis, so please take my words with a grain of salt.) I would suggest going to The Shenners Noteworthy review for a more in-depth and experienced look at the cross-dressing in the novel.
Now, about the bisexuality, because that’s why I originally requested this book. The plot doesn’t hinge on it by any means. Rather, Jordan slowly comes to realise that she’s not as straight as she previously thought – it is just another way that she grows. I will say now, the book does not end with a F/F relationship, which I think disappointed some readers. But that’s the whole point of her being bisexual, in my mind. Also, there are some amazing quotes about being bisexual, such as this one:
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?
I nearly screamed when I read this one. This is SO TRUE to how I discovered my sexuality. I couldn’t find out if the author Riley Redgate is bisexual herself, but this really felt like an #ownvoices novel.
In conclusion – I love Noteworthy with all my heart. It will be released on May 2nd 2017. Pre-order it now, y’all. Seriously.
NB: This is my choice for the Bisexual MC square in Diversity Bingo 2017.