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Noteworthy Hardcover – May 2, 2017
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But this is a book that is really about relationships -- platonic, romantic, and familial -- and empathy and trust, and I love its portrayal of all of those things.
Jordan Mingyan Sun is our protagonist, and her narrative voice is sarcastic and refreshing. She says her mouth had a mind of its own, and we could see that from the very beginning. There were a lot of sassy and comical moments that happened directly because of Jordan’s lack of impulse control. I really liked Jordan, because I could understand her deep seated insecurities and fears in a way. Her situation is also very relatable to me, because she wasn’t the typical middle class straight white MC I’m used to seeing in YA. We see how different Jordan is from the rest of her classmates in regards to race, sexuality, and economic situations. Jordan herself talks about these disparities in a way that rang true to me.
This book is very character driven. We meet The Sharpshooters, this group of 7 guys who all have different backgrounds and personalities. They were all developed exceptionally well, and I can see myself reading companion books or novellas about them because I felt like they all in their own ways stole the spotlight whenever they were on the page. All the character interactions in this book were so cute. I loved how Jordan slowly felt herself opening up to the group because I could really see the evolution from strangers to an almost family dynamic.
I also really liked that this was more about Jordan’s journey to figuring out who she was and what she wanted. There was very little romance and it doesn’t overshadow the plot at all, but when it was there it was really adorable.
The diversity here is also really intersectional. Jordan is bisexual and Chinese, but there’s also Japanese, queer, Sikh, Indian, learning disabilities, and underrepresented body type representation in the book.
I want to make it very clear that while Jordan cross-dresses and poses as a boy to get into the acapella group, she definitely is not genderqueer or non-binary. Jordan throughout the book questions her decision to cross-dress and why she enjoyed her “male” side more than her actual self.
I also think the book suffered a bit in terms of pacing. It took me a while to really invest in the story because I felt like I was waiting for something to happen. I wanted to see more of Jordan switching between being Julian and herself. I wanted to see more of how she managed to fool everyone while still staying true to herself. I also wanted the ending to be more developed. The whole book is pretty slow burn and introspective, but the ending felt a bit rushed for my taste.
Overall, I really did enjoy the book. There were a lot of cute and adorable moments with the whole cast, as well as honest discussions about poverty, femininity, misogyny, and more. However, had there been better pacing and more nuanced gender discussions, the book would have been much better.
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley.
Noteworthy is pretty slow paced, since it takes us through an entire school semester. Jordan goes from a nobody who can’t get a role, to someone with friends and a sense of purpose. I loved that the author addressed that Jordan disguising herself for three months isn’t going to be easy. She has to flatten her chest, purchase boy clothes on her tight budget, and cut her hair since a wig can shift or fall off to become Julian. Jordan doesn’t just throw on a t-shirt and try to sound like a dude. She puts some effort into her disguise and does research.
Although, I found her extra efforts to be feminine while she was Jordan strange. She puts on extra makeup, gets a long wig, and starts wearing dresses and heels. If she didn’t look this way before, wouldn’t it draw more attention to her to do it now? I get that she wants to look even less like Julian, but her reasoning didn’t make sense. And she interacts with exactly zero characters as Jordan, so it wasn’t like there was anyone to notice the changes. It isn’t explained until the very end why she’s been alone for two years, so it bugged me for much of the book. I did like the reason though, since it’s nothing that I’ve read before.
Noteworthy also talks about sexuality and gender identity a lot. Of course, while dressed as Julian, Jordan gets treated differently than she does as Jordan. She’s much more aware of the way she moves in order to blend in. I found it interesting how she says she feels more free and more like herself when she’s Julian, but not that she believes she’s a boy or even any gender that isn’t female. There is a brief discussion of how what Jordan is doing and feeling is different than being transgender, but nothing substantial. Jordan also discovers that she’s bisexual, but since this isn’t a romance, it isn’t focused on too much although there is kissing.
I enjoyed Noteworthy, but it was a lot more serious than I thought it was going to be. Not that that’s a bad thing. It just seemed like it was going to be this fast, fun, and funny story about a girl infiltrating a male dominated world and blowing them away. It kind of does that, but it’s more about Jordan figuring herself out.
Most recent customer reviews
Author: Riley Redgate
Review: The opening to Noteworthy was great we meet Jordan who...Read more
I was first attracted to Noteworthy for two reasons: 1) I heard somewhere that it was like a modern day Mulan...Read more
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.Read more