Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!
Synopsis: Junior Jordan Sun wants desperately to fit her square peg into the series of round holes that make up the Kensington-Blaine Academy for the Performing Arts -- but there seems to be no place for her, in theater, film, drama, or dance. In drama, she's not considered dramatic enough. In theater musicals, her voice is "difficult to reconcile with musical theater;" it's low for solo leads and too ...unique for chorus - second altos could quack like ducklings in a forest full of songbirds. Aside from her own insecurities as an artist was being a poor artist at a swanky school, where early admission to Julliard and spendy outfits were just an accepted norm. Jordon feels ashamed of her scrappy ambitiousness, feeling she should be home, being a helpful, useful part of her immediate family -- who really, really, really, really, really cannot afford her taking this chance. Not when her Dad's been injured. Not when her mother's having to apply for aid just to get food on the table. Not when... three years in at Kensington, and she's still not making it into any of the drama groups she's meant to join.
Jordan sees an opportunity to change her fate by auditioning to join the Sharpshooters, Kensington's premier octet. Of course, joining the Sharps means cutting some corners... and auditioning in drag. Soon, Jordon Sun, Tenor 1, is taking some chances; lying to a few people... and then a few more. It's all for a good cause, though, right...?
Observations: Diversity, creativity, ingenuity: YES. While the novel may start slowly for some -- especially those who are not vocal groupies - the novel hit its stride fairly quickly, and steadily gained tension, as so many lies piled up, and so many secrets and competitive little twists were revealed. This novel is my novel in a variety of ways: I went to a private boarding school my parents could NOT afford -- and I worried about it with a brick in my gut every single day of the two years I was there. I love that the author included and examined the difference in classes and the egregious assumptions at times made about those who are wealthy, and those who are on public assistance. Redgate hits hard at some home truths about the secrets we keep - from ourselves and from each other - and the drag that Jordan continues to wear is not the only mask the novel examines.
The voice and characterizations in this novel reeled me in. The description of singing, of what perfection in harmony feels like emotionally, were so. spot. on. Sometimes, when you're singing, it's like you're flying, and the sound buoys you up, and you never want it to stop... The boarding school vibe, a microcosmic universe where suddenly EVERYTHING is super important, and the outside world almost doesn't exist? Also spot on. Music nerds and people who like school stories will really love this. People looking for stories from new voices in the field will really enjoy a fresh take on school and life from a cross-dressing, bi-maybe, Chinese-American perspective.
Conclusion: This was a hotly anticipated novel to come out this year and is basically a love letter to music, choral groups, and high school organizations. I am a BIG OLD CHORAL NERD (and as I write this, we're two days from an a cappella performance this weekend) so this novel truly resonated for me. I am gratified that the hype didn't disappoint.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the publisher. After MAY 2, 2017 - not long, now! - you can find NOTEWORTHY by Riley Redgate at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!