Book Reviews

Review: Notworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy is entirely infectious. Redgate’s writing is humorous, genuine, and hits you right in the feels. Jordan’s character comes alive, whether it be dealing with her family problems, or exploring her bisexuality. You’ve got to check out this #ownvoices gem, you won’t regret it. Noteworthy is full of delirious high notes and a smattering of lows, all giving the entire book a crescendo of a finish.

Summary

Jordan has never gotten a role in her prestigious Performing Art schools musical. For three consecutive years, she has been looked over and it is becoming the breaking point for her musical career. Being an alto 2 in the musical world, while necessary to the balance, has done her no favors in her choices for ‘appropriate’ singing parts. So, when a spot opens up in the all-male Sharpshooters, an elite acapella group, Jordan has nothing left to lose. Against her nerves and hasty costume, Jordan is accepted and now the real acting begins as she must balance her own studies with the rigorous rehearsals, living half her time as Jordan and half as Julian, the male Tenor 1.

Review

Excuse me if this review will be focused predominately on the characters, because they are just so amazingly good. We have Jordan, who is a fantastic character in her own rights: striking a perfect balance between depth, humor, and wit, who is also surrounded by a cast of incredibly detailed characters. Redgate does a phenomenal job of balancing Jordan’s very real family struggles with those of her peers, making their comparative hurdles relative. Speaking of her peers, all the members of the Sharps have their own distinct personality. No matter how many lines they get, each voice and personality has its own timbre (but my favorite has to be Nihail). Redgate also does a great job giving them nuance, even the less savory ones! Give me all these characters again and again because I love them.

The romance has a beautiful building up, a friendship prelude to a glorious opening. It has the sweetness of a motet and the swirling emotions and depths. I really enjoyed this aspect, as badly done romances are a pet peeve of mine.

Finally, one of my favorite parts of Jordan’s character was her awareness about her own race, questions of sexuality, and gender constructions. This has got to be influenced by Redgate’s own interest in feminist theory and the careful consideration is apparent. Jordan’s cross dressing allows her to pick up and apart the constructions of male and female, spending her days and nights on differing sides. (I just also want to make it clear that Jordan is NOT trans, she is cis, I read some threads about it, so I just thought I’d make it clear here).  Additionally, Redgate throws out mentions of sexuality and trans-identity that I find refreshing, updating the typical cross-dressing narrative, but could have included more or gender fluid characters.

In conclusion,

I cannot sing my praises of Noteworthy loud enough. Being somewhat of a singing goof and acapella lover myself, this book hit all the right spots. (There is the ‘soundtrack’ on Redgate’s website to bless your little ears. I can warmly recommend it, it’s all I’ve been listening to since I finished the book). It reminded me of a line from The Holiday where he says something along the lines of, ‘I used only the good notes’. And while Redgate did not exclusively use my favorites, there were a smattering of lows and even some dissonant clashes, they came together to make the perfect song. The only thing that could have improved this story would be if it was happening in an intergalactic spaceship school and the Measures were actually squid looking aliens and Isaac was a shape shifting alien by night, or is that just my secret wish?

You can pick up a copy on Amazon, add it to Goodreads, or visit the author’s website.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

Discussion

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