Published by Amulet Books on May 2nd 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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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.
Noteworthy is the cutest book of 2017. No, really, I think it is. Or at least it has been so far. I know a lot of young adult readers love the cross-dressing trope, and it’s usually when a girl poses as a guy. It’s really popular in movies and KDramas too, and I gotta be honest, it’s not really my thing. It’s just always really hard for me to believe that a girl could pass as a guy for that long–it’s not just the appearance that has to pass, but mannerisms, voice, behavior, everything. And I mean, if a guy tried to pass as a girl for that long I would totally catch on. So it’s a suspension of disbelief issue for me, and I really just have to close that part of my brain off so I can enjoy the book, and it’s not always possible. That said, I know it’s my issue, and Noteworthy did it really well. So for those that love that trope, I definitely recommend this book. The romance is the cutest, too.
Things that are great about Noteworthy:
- The diversity: Jordan is Asian American, and the rest of the characters are diverse as well. Jordan’s best friend is Sikh, Jordan herself is bisexual, there are gay characters, Jordan’s father is paraplegic, and the best part about it is it’s all just integrated into the story really well. The world is a diverse place, and we should find the same thing in books.
- A capella is a really big thing right now and it looks to not be going anywhere soon. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in an a capella group, or just a singing group in general, this book absolutely nails it. I’ve never done a capella but I was in high school choir and college choir, and yeah, it’s pretty accurate. I think because a capella groups are a bit smaller the members get a bit closer and may depend on each other more, but it’s like a family, which I suppose is like any group of people that spend a lot of time together.
- The book is written really well. There are a lot of characters in Noteworthy, and they are all developed really well, even the antagonists. I’m always super impressed when an author takes the time to develop little subtle nuances that make each character stand out and feel genuine. Each member of The Sharpshooters is recognizable, has their own motivations and things that make them tick.
Things that are not great about Noteworthy:
- It bothered me how much the rival a capella group got away with. It’s one thing to play pranks, but they were vandalizing, sabotaging, and it got far too serious and no faculty stepped in. Now granted, I think maybe they would have if The Sharpshooters had spoken up and reported the harassment, but at one point Jordan actually does report it, and the teacher says she has to “man up.” I just don’t think teachers would actually do NOTHING, since a car is actually keyed, It also makes teachers look really bad, and as the wife of a husband who is a teacher, it pisses me off a bit.
- The book took a while to get moving. I wouldn’t say it was boring, but the book was a bit wordier than I would have liked. I just feel it could have been condensed more, that it was maybe too long. There were scenes, more towards the beginning, that I feel were not integral to the plot and probably could have been left out.
I definitely recommend Noteworthy. It was cute, handled some serious topics really well, had an adorable romance, and since there are not a lot of books about singing in YA, this is definitely a great addition.