"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

28 September 2017


Redgate, Riley. Noteworthy. Amulet Books, 2017.

Jordan is a junior at an elite performing arts boarding school, and as someone focusing on theater, she has yet to land a role in any of the school productions. She knows college apps are on the horizon, and she's desperate to make herself stand out from her peers. Thus she poses as a guy and auditions for an a capella group on campus. Jordan then has to lead a double life - she's Jordan in class and while Skyping her parents, but she's Julian when she rehearses with the group. This group seems to be Jordan's only way of guaranteeing that she can stay at this school, if she can keep her secret long enough.

What I liked: Jordan's exploration of gender was fantastic. When she is inevitably outed, one of the boys in the group responds with, "Oh, so you're trans?" which I think is also fantastic. Also, yay for lots of diversity! This is a classic boarding school-style story, with pranks and sneaking out at night, etc. etc.

What I didn't like: Two picky details, one small, and one large. Small: Jordan is initially outed because she's on a retreat with the guys and someone bumps into her as she exits the bathroom post-shower. Why oh why did she not just BRING HER CLOTHES INTO THE BATHROOM so she could dress immediately after showering? This just seemed unnecessarily complicated to me. I would never consider walking around some rando's house in a towel - of course my clothes come into the bathroom with me.

Now for the large detail: Jordan is from San Francisco, but the author may possibly have not been to San Francisco ever or just chose this location because Jordan is Asian. Jordan mentions having an air conditioner; in fact, part of her family's money struggles comes from having to repair/replace said air conditioner. However, no apartment in San Francisco comes equipped with an air conditioner, nor would anyone waste money on an object that would be used maybe three times per year.

Also, Jordan's dad supposedly works at a gas station, but there are only 17 gas stations in the entire city of San Francisco (don't believe me? Google map it.). His gas station salary, combined with Jordan's mom's part-time work, supposedly pays for their rent and Jordan's school fees, in addition to food, health care, electricity, etc. etc. The average rent in SF for a one bedroom apartment (assuming Jordan has to sleep in the living room) is $3500 a month as of 2015, so we can assume closer to $4K now. There is simply no way that Jordan's parents can afford to live in San Francisco in anything bigger than a shared studio apartment. Supposedly her family is really poor and that's why she's on a scholarship and when their rent goes up she's going to have to leave school. Unless her family is actually living in the East Bay, like in Oakland or San Leandro, there's simply no way they could afford to live there. I know this because my spouse and I attempted to live in the suburbs of SF for three years, and even two salaried masters degreed full time employed humans couldn't afford an apartment there.

Bottom line: Yay for gender discussions and an overall good story. Boo for the San Francisco details being WAY off and Jordan's weird Imma-walk-naked-thru-a-house-full-of-dudes shower routine. I'd still hand this book to any teen in my library.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: some minor violence - fighting and such; underage drinking and drug use
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Honestly Ben, Winger, A Separate Peace

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