Listen, when someone says a book gives off queer Asian Glee vibes, I need to be there. Immediately. Every part of that description is a part of my core. So it should be a surprise to absolutely no one that I forced my way into an ARC of All the Right Notes by Dominic Lim (for legal purposes, there was no actual force 😂)
Quito Cruz is a music prodigy, but he’s not really been able to put that talent to use as much as he’d like. When Quito’s choir director father announces that he is planning on retiring, Quito is surprised - the thought of his dad not teaching anymore never even crossed his mind. He’s even more surprised when his dad says they are going to put on a charity performance and that Quito needs to convince his old friend Emmett Aoki to come back and perform as well. The only problem is Emmett is now one of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities…and they haven’t talked since that one night in college…
From the opening note…er, chapter…this book had me in a chokehold. The story is told in dual timelines from Quito’s POV and opens in the past at what could be defined as the opening scene of Quito and Emmett’s relationship. The depiction of a high school choir room flung me back in time to my own memories of high school choir and felt like a warm hug (even if high school wasn’t my favorite time, choir was).
On the heels of that nostalgia, I then get to feel personally attacked by Quito’s perfect description of going through the motions. The audience is able to understand that, though he has some good things going on, he is just not where he wants to be in his life. He’s stuck.
The transitioning between past and present was so smooth, as if the story was completely linear. The exposition from the past informs the actions of the present and it’s clear that Quito, though twenty years removed, is still feeling everything from back then and has a lot to work through. I felt like I just needed to give him a hug and tell him that everything was going to be okay.
I couldn’t do that, but the supporting characters sure did! Though the story spent most of its time with Quito and Emmett, there was plenty of character development for the side characters as well. I don’t know about you, but when I spend time thinking that a side character needs their own book, that’s a sign of a great story, great characters, and great writing.
This story is very clearly written by someone who has a deep love and appreciation for music. It is infused in every part of the story and it made me want to pull out my old sheet music and hop back into piano. Anyone who doesn’t walk away from this without a deeper appreciation of music and everything that goes into it…well, I don’t even know what to say to you.
One of the best parts of this story was the LGBTQIA+ representation, especially the BIPOC LGBTQIA+ representation. It always makes me happy to see queer joy on the page and it’s even better when they don’t have to go through a horrible coming out (or similar) to get to that happiness. Don't get me wrong, this book isn't all rainbows and unicorns - there are some moments that will make you cry and want to hold close the ones you love. But you will also be reminded that the ones you love are always with you and that how you react to things will tell you how you truly feel about something (or someone).
All the Right Notes, Dominic Lim’s musical and joyful debut, hits shelves June 6, 2023 and is available for preorder here.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well!