It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts in Noteworthy. 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. Worshipped… revered… all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Julian Zhang, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for. (via Goodreads)
I received an eARC from Netgalley and the publisher, Amulet Books, in exchange for an honest review.
Noteworthy is Pitch Perfect meets She’s The Man, with Jordan Sun’s hilarious voice and sincere voice, and a hefty dose of reality. The main character, Jordan/Julian, is Chinese, bisexual and poor.
I saw several people note that they thought that the main character of this book was nonbinary, and I want to be very clear that she is not, and it’s discussed on the page. She does, however, crossdress and live half of her life on the page in the guise of a man.
Jordan also does some soul searching about how she feels about crossdressing as a cisgender person, and about what her sexuality means to her. I thought all of this, and her growth, was done very naturally and well.
C.T. Callahan, a nonbinary reader and author, thought differently, and I highly recommend you read their review as well, because I am about as cis as one can get. You can read their review here.
I really loved the way Noteworthy dealt with the Sun family’s struggle with money, because it felt entirely realistic to me. Money is something my family has always struggled with, and until recently, we hadn’t even had to worry about disability requirements and how to make that work with actually working. I know how it feels to be told that you can’t do something because there’s no way we could afford it. My parents did literally everything in their power to make it possible for me to do the things I wanted, like marching band, but there was also a point where if they felt something wasn’t worth it and we weren’t enjoying it, it became not worth it. I didn’t eat meals out unless someone else paid until college when I was working jobs of my own, and even then it was rare.
Most of all, I love how much each of the characters loved music in their own way. You have Jon Cox, the Handel lover, Trav the arranger, Isaac the acoustic guitar player, and then you have Jordan, the musical theater major. In light of that, I made a playlist for those of you who want to do some a capella listening while you read! I made sure to add a variety of things to the playlist.
One complaint I did have with this is that we basically never saw Jordan actually do any of her classwork, or focus on the plays she needed to do for class. However, It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.
Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money off of it.