Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.
Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped … revered … all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.
I was provided an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way has affected my review.
I was ecstatic when I got approved for the eARC of this book because I ADORED Riley Redgate’s debut novel Seven Ways We Lie (review here). The debut was hilarious but with poignant moments and each character was so diverse and unique. This book had a similar tone but a very different story line. I absolutely loved it.
A distinctive feature about this book is that it is an Own Voices book about a Chinese girl, written by a Chinese author but apart from that, there are several other non-white characters. The protagonist is bisexual and there are characters who are gay. One of the characters, Nihal, is Indian and an absolute sweetheart. I’m mentioning him separately because I felt that the author’s portrayal of him was not ignorant or cliche, like most Indian characters in books usually are. Jordan’s bisexuality is not a major part of the story so if you were going to read this specifically for that reason, you may be a bit disappointed however, there are many other diverse elements to the story. If you’re looking to read a book with diverse characters, this is the one to go for!
All of the characters in this book are so complex and Riley Redgate has fleshed them out with such care. Each of them have their own distinct backstory and are all interconnected seamlessly. The Sharps have such a great relationship with each other and Jordan which was so much fun to read about! A small part of the book is told in their group chat thread which is hilarious. Their interactions were fun at the right times and poignant when the moment called for it. I love how their friendship is so deep and meaningful. They all genuinely care about each other, not just their a cappella group.
Cross dressing is a big part of the story but this isn’t a book about a trans character. It’s a tricky subject to write about but Redgate has definitely done it justice and isn’t offensive to any community. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how Jordan had to change so much of herself in order to fit in with the boys and it was also really interesting to see how she integrated the changes of her hair and her clothing into her daily life that it became like she had a double life of sorts. The author delved into every possible detail about a girl dressing up as a guy and got too real with it while talking about how Jordan handled getting her period while having to prance around for her performance. The struggle is real, guys.
Riley Redgate’s debut novel was told in seven POVs but this is told in just one. I felt that it got a bit monotonous at times because while I loved Jordan’s life and found it fascinating, I didn’t connect with her as much as I did with the Sharps. Also, I feel like the pacing of the story was compromised because of the detailed descriptions of all the characters and their lives. The story was a bit slow at times. But this story is very character driven so it’s good that we spend so much time learning about the characters to fully understand them and their motives. I didn’t particularly enjoy the romance in this story. It felt a bit…random. It came out of nowhere. This is a book about a cappella and music so the romance felt a bit out of place.
Like I mentioned in the title, this book is literally Pitch Perfect meets She’s The Man.
(But better than the latter) Reading this felt like watching a high school movie. It had all the elements – drama, music, school, romance, drama, villains, drama – everything! (Did I mention, drama?) The story gets resolved in a very cheesy way, thus making it even more of a high school movie. It’s great!
I definitely recommend you read this. It’s a great book and there are times that will leave you laughing like a crazy person. Riley Redgate is a fantastic author and you should surely check out her work!
Have you read this book? Do you like books with themes of music?