Monday, 1 May 2017

ARC Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

I absolutely adored this book. 100% truly adored it. Thoughtful representation of LGBT+ sexualities wrapped up in a thought provoking yet entertaining story that also tackles issues of feminism and gender equality. Big thanks to ACBYA for the ARC.

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.

Jordan/Julian was a wonderful main character for so many reasons. Within the first few chapters she's presented with a seemingly impossible challenge and yet she comes up with an ingenious solution. Her last chance to chase what she wants. To chase her dreams. But it's not at all an easy road. In disguising herself as a boy, Jordan discovers things about the world she'd seemingly before never given a lot of thought to. I'll speak more about representation below, but I loved how the author was very sensitive of the character's situation, in respect of the LGBT community. The character notes how uncomfortable the situation is, even if it's her last hope, and how she feels she may be 'stepping on the toes of' transgender people and their identity. I can't speak from personal experience in this matter, but I did feel as if the author had researched and used sensitivity readers, and was aware to not offend/hurt (or at least try to) any of her readers. So far, I've seen no reviews or comments to the contrary.

Isaac was an adorable, if not a little cocky, character, who was sensitive and understanding where needed. His own past and trauma shaped his character in a way where he could be understood by and in turn understand Jordan. I would have liked a little more in the way of their interactions about their family lives, but I loved the chemistry none the less.

Trav too was a wonderful character, and quite possibly my favourite. I saw a lot of myself in Trav - his anxiety and perfectionism, and sometimes brash attitude. He has a lot on his plate but he deals with it so maturely. His story didn't seem to get a final resolution, though I was still happy enough with the end, but I would have liked to see him achieve the personal recognition he deserved.

The other characters were also well thought out, though again the ending seemed a little rushed in terms of resolution. Some of the relationships were hinted at but never resolved, which I would have liked to see.

The story was magnificent. Hooking me to the very first page with Jordan's situation, yet then keeping me hooked with so many twists and turns and the wonderful cast of characters, it truly was a joy to read, especially for a musical theatre fan such as myself.

I want to give special mention to the representation, sensitivity and other aspects of the book that I thought were well executed. As mentioned above there is a fair amount of indirect transexual representation, which 'impersonally' seemed to be sensitive and thought provoking, though I do think it would have been good for the author to have actually included a few trans characters. There's also Bi representation, which personally was wonderful to see. Some of the character's comments did seem a little off hand at first but it quickly becomes apparent that she is discovering her own sexuality and is unsure how she feels or how she is meant to feel. Finally I loved the section of the book where Jordan is unfortunately surprised by her period and has to struggle through it disguised as a boy. Not the easiest thing to deal with!

Overall this was a wonderful, entertaining book with a lot of thought provoking aspects and positive LGBT and female representation. I would urge everyone to read it and award it four stars.

As always, thanks for reading and do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

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