What an incredibly fun book!! I, myself, was in a fine arts program in high school and went on to major in music in college and I went into this book a little skeptical that this would be another author trying to write a mediocre music book. NO WAY! Riley Redgate knows her shit! Thank the music gods!
So not only were all of the music references accurate, I really thought that so much of the teenage identity struggle was real too. Whether Jordan was struggling with her voice (“[her] singing voice is difficult to reconcile with musical theater. Firstly, there’s a timbre to it…It also affects your physicality. Your eyes close; you shift and sway…Those tics are a challenge to eliminate.”), her gender (“The longer I thought about the possibility that I might not be a girl, the more I became sure that I was one…The struggle to fit into some narrow window of femininity didn’t exclude me from the club.”), her sexuality (“All I understood about sexuality was its uncertainty, discovering your way through yourself day by day…”), or her emotions (you get the point…I can quote this book all day), she is a really fun character in a unique situation.
Speaking of Jordan/Julian’s unique situation, I thought Noteworthy was extra noteworthy (see what I did there?!) because it touched on almost all aspects of LGBTQIA. Not so much the L, but we have Nihal and Connor’s relationship, Jordan admitting Bi-curious tendencies, plus the obvious cross-dressing/acting male for months which Isaac asks if Julian is trans. I thought it was an eye-opening lesson how one seemingly small ploy (dressing up for one audition) can ultimately snowball into a life-altering course.
So while I rave about all of this, why did I only give 4 stars and not 5? Well, I have to say the book was quite predictable. Fun, yes. But I knew from early on who Jordan would end up with, what would happen with the family, how the competition would go, etc. Also, while I enjoyed reading the book and it was fun, it wasn’t life-changing and that is my big qualifier for that 5th star. However, I will definitely be recommending this to my music students. It was a great read and perfect for my high schoolers.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Soundtrack: The Official Noteworthy Soundtrack (from the author BY the author…more total coolness!!!)