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Noteworthy
Cover of Noteworthy
Noteworthy

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. But 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.

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. But 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.

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  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    780
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4

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About the Author-
  • Riley Redgate graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, with a degree in economics. Noteworthy is her second novel. She currently lives and writes in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Visit the author at rileyredgate.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 8, 2017
    Jordan Sun is an alto at a performing arts boarding school that rewards sopranos with big parts and altos with nothing (Jordan is also Chinese, something she suspects doesn’t help her land roles either). Fed up, she tries out for a prestigious all-male a cappella group, the Sharpshooters, doing her best to pass as a boy. The group loves her voice, and soon Jordan is living a double life as Julian and realizing how much she enjoys it. Throughout, Jordan digs into questions about gender, sexuality, bias, and privilege (“What had I ever gotten out of being a girl, anyway? What did I even like about it?... I wasn’t skinny, I wasn’t pretty, and I didn’t care about any of it as much as I was supposed to”), eventually opening herself up to a newfound, empowering fluidity. Redgate (Seven Ways We Lie) vividly captures the world of a cappella, and she uses Jordan’s soul-searching—as well as her family’s financial struggles, which linger in the background—to bring freshness and substantial depth to a gender-bending/mistaken identity plot that has a long history in literature and theater. Ages 13–up. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from March 15, 2017
    Redgate deftly harmonizes a lighthearted plot with an exploration of privilege, identity, and personal agency. Jordan Sun is a Chinese-American high school junior from a working-poor family who feels a bit out of place at her prestigious, arts-focused boarding school in upstate New York. Though the school's diversity policy is bringing in more students from minority backgrounds, most of her classmates are still wealthy and white. After continued rejection for roles in the theater department, Jordan decides to try her hand at something new and joins one of the school's legendary a cappella groups: a traditionally all-male one. To audition, Jordan adopts the male persona of Julian, and when Julian is accepted to fill a tenor spot with the group, Jordan must slip into the role of her life. As a first-person narrator, Jordan is often dryly sarcastic, but it is her lyrical prose that brings depth and empathy to a story that could otherwise be another needless riff on the cross-dressing trope. -It's too simple to hate the people who have doorways where you have walls,- she reflects. Wearing Julian's identity causes Jordan to question her assumptions regarding femininity, masculinity, and sexuality. Jordan ultimately shatters her own self-limiting expectations and in doing so encourages readers to do likewise. A heart song for all readers who have ever felt like strangers in their own skins. (Fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2017

    Gr 8 Up-Jordan Sun cross-dresses as Julian, a male a cappella singer, to use her height and low singing voice to her advantage in a ploy that evolves from the mounting frustration she feels after not getting cast in plays. She's on theater scholarship far away from her San Francisco Chinese American parents, who are just barely scraping by financially. At Kensington-Blane, an upstate New York boarding school for the arts, Jordan is willing to risk aspects of her identity to audition for the Sharpshooters, a young men's singing ensemble with a long and proud tradition. She cuts her hair and dons a wig when in "girl mode." Once the teen makes the Sharps, she has to spend more and more of her time in cloaking glasses after raiding a thrift sale for boys' duds. Something of a whim becomes a commitment: she must pretend to be a dude for the long haul as the group preps for a high-stakes competition in December, and she is soon embraced by the tight club, which is focused on the prize. The seven other members of the group-all quite distinctively characterized-become an accepting clique, a sanctuary of friendship and artistic endeavor. As Jordan comes to know outsider Nihal, punctilious music director Trav, and talented and extroverted Isaac, she becomes embroiled in their ambitions and their rivalries. Jordan/Julian treats readers to an outsider/insider's perspective on gender. Setting and plot delightfully incorporate the arts, with themes of romance and self-awareness woven in. VERDICT This fun novel pushes against gender norms and will resonate with many teens. A strong purchase for most collections.-Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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