Author: Riley Redgate
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: 2. May 2017
Rating: 4/5. Stars
Diversity: PoC, LGBT rep, Disability rep
TW: short mention of biphobia, short mention of fatphobia
Summary: 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.
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Jordan is different from her classmates, not that she wants to be. As a poor Chinese-American girl, who only manages to go to school on a scholarship, she definitely does not have it as easy as other people. If all that wasn’t enough she is also an Alto-2 and unable to get a role in the school musical because of that. Frustrated she decides to dress up as a boy, Jordan Sun, and try her luck. This position in the a cappella octet will change her life irreversibly.
Jordan is such a great main character. At times she’s very self-assured, other times she’s quite shy. She’s really funny and if Jordan was real, I’d love to be her friend. She figures a lot of things out about herself in this novel and it was so great to read about her journey. Her past relationship with Michael and the blooming romance that happens in the end of the book give a lot of depth to the story, but the best thing is that it is not that much about romance and much more about Jordans life and I loved it!
The cover and the title made me expect a funny upbeat story, but that’s not what this book was. Dealing with Jordan’s feelings for her ex-boyfriend and her struggle to fit in, this book is quite melancholic, but without ever getting depression. It has some really funny scenes, but most of all it feels real.
It’s a lovely coming-of-age story and it explores so many different angles, which was fascinating. There’s the wonderful ownvoices representation of a Chinese-American character, her disabled dad, critique of the American health system and poverty as result of sickness and a health insurance system that let them down, but most of all it’s a love story to a capella and college a capella groups.
There is some romance, but not that much, which I really enjoyed and the b-word is explicitly mentioned <3. There are also quite a few important non-white side-characters who play important roles in the story (I especially love Nihal, a gay Indian boy, he’s so great and nice and cares so much, ahhh, he’s probably one of my favorite side characters) and the diversity was just so great to see!!! And while the story is very much filled with male characters, most of them are really interesting and incredibly fleshed out. There’s Isaac, japanese-american and really funny, there’s Trav, whose very intense about a capella, Jon Cox, the typical rich private school boy except not really because he has a learning disability, Mama, whose really passionate about Haydn (he’s also fat and never shamed for it, except by some assholes who are called out for it and I’m just #blessed), Marcus, a fourteen year old democrat (he’s adorable) and socially awkward Erik. The friendships between the boys are really wonderful to read about (though my favorite was the one between Nihal and Jordan, honestly I loved it so much, when I read it I actually teared up a bit bc I had so many feelings!!!) and I just loved it a lot. At first I was a bit worried how such a big cast of characters would work, but it works wonderfully and I just love them all so much.
Riley also points about struggles of the transgender community, even though she’s only crossdressing and it was refreshing and wonderful to find this in the book as I was not expecting such a nuanced description of transmen’s struggle in a book whose main focus is a girl dressing as a boy. It was really great.
The ending is also so great and I just loved it, it was such a wonderful ending for the book and it honestly made me very happy.
Sadly the book started quite slow, a bit too slow for my taste, but it picks up around 100 pages when the stakes for Jordan are raised and after that I struggled to put the book down (which I had to a few times, since I had to study for an exam, but it was just too good to stop!!)
All in all this book was wonderfully diverse and great, I loved it a lot.