Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (2017)
Teen Fiction | Contemporary
“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.”
Expected Publication Date: May 02, 2017
pooled ink Review:
As both a theatre major and a singer this book was definitely up my alley. A cappella groups are definitely kinda nerdy and should probably thank the movie Pitch Perfect for making them at least the cool kids within the dork realm. I never auditioned for a group in college, mostly because the girl group was huge and all female and that sounded like a recipe for unwanted drama, ya know? Of course they form a co-ed group after I no longer have a schedule with free time for extracurriculars. Ah well.
Having the protagonist be a contralto/tenor 1 singer is definitely a unique take, which only makes sense since that’s a unique vocal range. I’m a soprano so I definitely do not have the limited opportunities that poor Jordan does (although with an increasing demand for epic belting solos that lean towards altos I am left mostly with less trendy floaty ingénue pieces but whatever, in the musical theatre realm I’m not out on the street yet haha). I so wish this book could somehow magically come with a soundtrack. I’m not a massive a cappella fan but when a group nails it it’s epic and I have a feeling that the Sharpshooters are epic. (Also, am I going to watch Pitch Perfect after I finish this review? Heck yes.)
In broad strokes this book is about a group of teens in high school singing a cappella and trying to figure out their place and identity. Jordan is a girl with a voice that better suits the masculine range keeping her from achieving her musical theatre dreams, thus she decides to disguise herself and audition for a male a cappella group to prove herself. Jordan’s charade gives this book a nod to Twelfth Night, which I loved and it added to both the drama and the humor of the overall story.
I definitely enjoyed this book overall (I absolutely died laughing when she breaks the window and and contemplates jestingly if she’s a wizard) but to be honest there were just a few too many stupid decisions to win me over. Surely Jordan/Julian can’t be that careless and stupid, right? And yet…
Truly, with as seriously as she takes this whole a cappella infiltration thing she sure drops the ball in some very easy to avoid ways. It’s really not that hard. Like don’t drink alcohol when you know you’re a lightweight and will regret it. How about you get dressed inside the bathroom instead of trying to make it back to your room in a towel? I get that it added to the plot development but it’s really hard to accept when they seem like such stupid mistakes. That being said it is very impressive how long she keeps up this façade.
Okay let’s turn my disbelief to the Sharps’ rival group, the Minuets. The Minuets are too much. Seriously. I beg for them not to exist anywhere on this planet or in human history. They had me so freaking stressed out and I’m totally with Jordan/Julian with this. I mean I get that you have your own life problems but seriously?? I won’t spoil anything for you but be ready for some serious rivalry.
Mostly this was an entertaining book full of music, friendship, adventure, and self-discovery. But there are a few social-commentary tangents sprinkled throughout the entire book. Whenever one got underway it managed to stop before it could get blunt, blatant, repetitive, or just too much for a casual humorous contemporary fiction novel, but Jordan needs to chill and stop over-thinking everything. I have no problem with tossing in some much needed social commentary in books but it’s hard to toe the line between making it seem a natural inclusion and making the book have a blatant agenda while the story takes a backseat. For the most part Redgate did a good job of this. High school has got to be way more complicated and confusing than it even was when I was in high school so for those of you who feel that way then maybe you should pick up this book and ponder with Jordan about life.
Noteworthy is a glaringly realistic window into the world that is much needed on the teen shelves in bookstores today. Both a drama and a humorously wild tale of a cappella, brotherhood, and finding one’s way in the world no matter the obstacles stacked against you.
Purchase here: Noteworthy
Meet Riley Redgate!
Riley Redgate speaks exclusively in third person, so this works nicely. She loves horror films, apocalyptic thunderstorms, and the Atonement soundtrack. When writing author bios, she feels as if she is crafting some weirdly formal Tinder profile.
She plans someday to start a melodramatically epic rock band named Millennial Filth. Until then, she writes acoustic singer-songwriter stuff, also novels.