Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Received from NetGalley for review.

Noteworthy was an unexpectedly good read – although the idea of a girl disguising herself as a boy and infiltrating an all-male acapella group just so she can live her passion sounded amazing, I wasn’t sure how good it would be in novel form. Happily, my concerns were quickly made null and void, and I can honestly say this is one of the funniest books I have read so far this year, with genuine laugh out loud moments in abundance – I am not exaggerating when I say I was cackling with laughter.

I reached up with both hands, one for levering bags out of the way and the other for shampoo retrieval, which meant dropping my towel, and that was how I found myself naked in the trash closet digging through the garbage like a sad hairless raccoon.

The story focuses on Jordan Sun, a student on scholarship at a prestigious performing arts school whose singing voice is considered too deep to be suited to ‘leading lady’ roles within musical theatre. However, when she disguises herself as a boy and auditions for the Sharpshooters (an all-male acapella group), she finds a place where her voice fits and she finally feels herself. Even though she is technically in disguise as Julian, she feels freer than she ever has before.

Although a lot of this book is generally light-hearted and hilarious, Redgate also deals with difficult subjects – the ideas of sexuality, privilege, poverty, inequality, uncertainty, what constitutes femininity and masculinity, are all explored with sensitivity, and Jordan learns a lot about herself and her preconceived notions about gender throughout the novel. She accepts her own bisexuality, and realises that just because she is comfortable dressing in what is considered a more masculine way, she is no less of a girl for it – gender is a social construct, and what you have between your legs or what you choose to wear has nothing to do with it.

But the longer I thought about the possibility that I might not be a girl, the more I became sure that I was one. I knew it innately. The struggle to fit into some narrow window of femininity didn’t exclude me from the club.

I cannot recommend this book enough; it deals with difficult subjects in an accessible way, and is truly funny. Those of us who have seen Pitch Perfect already know how aca-awesome acapella can be, but if you haven’t experienced the world of making music with your mouth, I suggest you give it a try.

Read: May 17th-25th 2017

4/5 stars

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