Publishers Weekly Review
Jordan Sun is an alto at a performing arts boarding school that rewards sopranos with big parts and altos with nothing (Jordan is also Chinese, something she suspects doesn't help her land roles either). Fed up, she tries out for a prestigious all-male a cappella group, the Sharpshooters, doing her best to pass as a boy. The group loves her voice, and soon Jordan is living a double life as Julian and realizing how much she enjoys it. Throughout, Jordan digs into questions about gender, sexuality, bias, and privilege ("What had I ever gotten out of being a girl, anyway? What did I even like about it?... I wasn't skinny, I wasn't pretty, and I didn't care about any of it as much as I was supposed to"), eventually opening herself up to a newfound, empowering fluidity. Redgate (Seven Ways We Lie) vividly captures the world of a cappella, and she uses Jordan's soul-searching-as well as her family's financial struggles, which linger in the background-to bring freshness and substantial depth to a gender-bending/mistaken identity plot that has a long history in literature and theater. Ages 13-up. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-Jordan Sun cross-dresses as Julian, a male a cappella singer, to use her height and low singing voice to her advantage in a ploy that evolves from the mounting frustration she feels after not getting cast in plays. She's on theater scholarship far away from her San Francisco Chinese American parents, who are just barely scraping by financially. At Kensington-Blane, an upstate New York boarding school for the arts, Jordan is willing to risk aspects of her identity to audition for the Sharpshooters, a young men's singing ensemble with a long and proud tradition. She cuts her hair and dons a wig when in "girl mode." Once the teen makes the Sharps, she has to spend more and more of her time in cloaking glasses after raiding a thrift sale for boys' duds. Something of a whim becomes a commitment: she must pretend to be a dude for the long haul as the group preps for a high-stakes competition in December, and she is soon embraced by the tight club, which is focused on the prize. The seven other members of the group-all quite distinctively characterized-become an accepting clique, a sanctuary of friendship and artistic endeavor. As Jordan comes to know outsider Nihal, punctilious music director Trav, and talented and extroverted Isaac, she becomes embroiled in their ambitions and their rivalries. Jordan/Julian treats readers to an outsider/insider's perspective on gender. Setting and plot delightfully incorporate the arts, with themes of romance and self-awareness woven in. VERDICT This fun novel pushes against gender norms and will resonate with many teens. A strong purchase for most collections.-Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Noteworthy, by Riley Redgate (Seven Ways We Lie, 2016), features a girl who isn't sure of anything at all. Jordan Sun is a junior at her performing-arts boarding school, but her low voice and Chinese features keep her from getting cast. Jordan's on scholarship her family struggles financially because of her disabled father's medical bills and her parents are overly invested in her success. So when she fails yet again to get cast, she considers other options. A spot has opened in the Sharpshooters, an elite all-male a cappella group. It's college-application gold, so Jordan dresses up like a guy, borrows her cousin's name, and auditions. Crazier still, she gets in. Jordan Sun, contralto, becomes Julian Zhang, tenor, living a double life as she's drawn into the world of the Sharpshooters and into what it's like to be a boy. In some ways, pretending helps her become more sure of her identity: she's questioned her sexuality before, but as she spends more time as Julian, it becomes increasingly clear that she's bisexual. Conversely, as she grows more comfortable acting like a guy, the surer she is that she's not actually a transgender boy: I knew it innately. The struggle to fit into some narrow window of femininity didn't exclude me from the club. It's a smart critique of gender roles male and female in today's society (a particularly notable scene is one in which Jordan, as Julian, is told in no uncertain terms to man up by a respected teacher), and it's all delightfully wrapped up in a fun, compelling package of high-school rivalries, confusing romances, and a classic Shakespearean case of mistaken identity.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2017 Booklist