All the Right Notes
by Dominic Lim
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Pub Date 06 Jun 2023 | Archive Date Not set
With soul-baring solos, heartfelt duets, and a big, showstopping finale—this hilarious and joyous novel will make your heart sing.
Quito Cruz might be a genius piano player and composer in New York City now but it doesn’t mean that he’s any closer to his Broadway dream. Although Quito knows what the problem is. Or rather who. Because ever since that night in college—with pretty-boy jock Emmett Aoki—his inspiration has been completely MIA . . .
Now Quito’s dad wants him to put on a charity performance in his hometown. And there’s one hella big string attached: convince Emmett—now one of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities—to perform.
It’s all shaping up to be the biggest musical fiasco of Quito’s life. Especially when Emmett agrees to attend, and Quito realizes that undeniable vibe between them is stronger than ever. Because there’s nothing simple about falling for a movie star . . . even when he’s pitch-perfect.
Content guidance: alcohol and drug usage; the sudden death of family members; homophobic language; non-consensual sex.
A Note From the Publisher
For media inquiries, please contact Dana Cuadrado: dana.cuadrado@hbgusa,com
"All the Right Notes is a love letter to family, queer love, and music, handled with passion and skill. The romance burns with tension, and the details of Filipino food had me continuously hungry. I loved it."
—Anita Kelly, author of Something Wild & Wonderful
"Light and charming, with a hint of snark, this is a promising start for Lim." —Publishers Weekly
Actual rating 4.5 stars.
Sometimes I just want to immerse myself in a book. Because I feel down. Or because I’m tired. Or like now because my previous read consumed me wholly and still haunts me. All the Right Notes is the perfect book to read at times like these.
Told in a dual timeline, senior year in high school and twenty years later, All the Right Notes is a story about two men who once bonded over music and fell in love, and meet again, still feeling that tingling vibe between them from the past.
Like I said, I needed a book like this. It’s a wonderful debut. The almost blunt writing, the rather short chapters, and the alternation between now and then made me sit on the edge of my seat, and the palpable chemistry between Quito and Emmett made me want to devour this story in just one sitting. That heavy feeling in my chest from my previous read slowly disappeared. Instead, a fuzzy fondness entered my body and a smile started to tug at my lips. Not only because of Quito and Emmett but also because of the side characters. I immediately fell in love with Quito’s sweet and supporting dad and Jee, OMG, Jee. They reminded me so much of ‘glitterbal’ Jacob from First Time for Everything (Henry Fry). And can I gush about Emmett for a moment? He was so cute, no wonder that he had so many fans! Last but not least, I shouldn’t forget to mention that Domenic Lim is a Filipino-American author and Filipino food is interwoven throughout the story.
If you love dual timelines, music, a slow burn second chance romance with little steam but lots of yearning, and fully fleshed out characters then you should definitely read this great debut! Domenic, I can’t wait for what you have in store for us next!
This book is a love letter to music.
Here we follow Quito, a first gen Filipino American musical prodigy, and Emmett, popular highschool jock turned Hollywood actor, and their second chance romance.
What I loved:
• The Then/Now timeline - I really liked how we alternated from highschool to present day. It's always interesting, to me, to read second chance romances this way. I especially loved the Then parts because it was so heartwarming to see how Quito and Emmett's friendship was formed, and strengthened by music. Throw in all the confusing teenage feelings on top of that? So good!
• Mr. Cruz - I absolutely adored Mr. Cruz, Quito's dad, and beloved choir teacher to many. He's such a great character, and really demonstrates how important it is to have teachers who really *see* you. More importantly, though, I loved his relationship with his son 🧡
• All the Filipino food/culture - This book is infused with both, and I can't emphasize how much I loved it. 🇵🇭 pride!
• The music - Highschool choir, Broadway musicals, Off Broadway shows, and everything in between. The power of music is strong, and we see that so clearly here. You can tell how deeply meaningful music is to Lim by the way he writes about it. So much heart. 🎹🎶
• The diverse cast of characters ‐ Asian American MCs, and multiple queer reps. I would be remiss of me not to mention Ujima, drag queen extraordinaire, specifically. Absolutely adored them and was rooting for their journey all the way 🧡
• The setting - San Francisco Bay Area love!
• The overall theme about self love and acceptance, and finding and being your authentic self.
Overall, an incredible debut! I'm so excited for what Lim has next for us. Thank you, Forever, for the ARC!
Amongst the plethora of lgbtq poc rom coms being published this one stands out on a good note. The story reads much more realistically and captures the true angst of figuring out one’s identity. It captures all the growing pains. It is also an ode to the importance of good teachers. The family aspect of the book is beautifully wrought. I love the infusion of Filipino culture.
Dominic Lim’s All the Right Notes is a love letter and an ode to music, immigrant parents, and music teachers wrapped up in this queer Filipino-American slow burn second chance romance. Quito Cruz is a piano player and composer who hopes to one day compose his own musical on Broadway. However, he’s been unable to compose anything new since that last night in college that he saw popular high school jock and crush, Emmett Aoki, who was once Quito’s inspiration but is now one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars. Quito’s dad, his hometown high school’s choir teacher, wants Quito to come home to help put on a charity fundraiser and asks him to enlist Emmett to perform. Emmett agrees, and Quito finds that even though the past is not quite how he remembers it, the reprise he’s found himself in holds the same melody of feelings.
Quito and Emmett have undeniable chemistry, no matter how much Quito tries to convince himself otherwise. Their story is written in a dual timeline. (Think The Last Five Years!!) Lim’s imagery and humor scratched a part of my brain in all the right ways and had me smiling to myself and laughing out loud. Quito is a character who is still learning to trust his instincts and feelings, and the people he surrounds himself with are the pillars for all types of love in his life. The world is in desperate need of queer joy, and this story writes queer joy in the form of love from one’s parents and best friend in found family as well as the continually growing and deepening romantic love that Quito and Emmett have for one another and the ensuing consequences from that love. And that joy can also be found in the emotional moments that brought me to TEARS. Suffice to say, I cried a good few times lmao
As a Filipina American lifelong reader, I have read vastly, and in recent years, I have become largely set as a romance reader. Yet so few of those stories feature Fil-Am joy and love. Only in recent years have I found books that address what it means to be part of a Filipinx family in the diaspora, and even fewer of those stories focus on the joy without centering the trauma. Seeing my culture, my values, my language, the funny logic Filipinx folks use to find their nicknames, and the way Filipinx people point with their lips written on the pages of a book—that feels so validating!! We exist!! Reading the sacrifice that immigrant Filipinx parents make for their children to have more opportunities!! We’re seen!! Even reading the dynamic between Quito and his father— the underlying demands from Quito’s father posing as questions because the pressure to fulfill family obligations and unquestioningly respect one’s elders is drilled into at least this (yes, me) child of immigrants. I feel that!! There is something so special and heartwarming about reading books that reflect my family and the families of my fellow Fil-Am friends. Also all the food!! Ang sarap!! The food of my people!! There were times I tried to complete chapters before dinner, and what a mistake that was because my stomach was literally growling. Reading about the very food that my own family makes and loves was healing to my inner child and made me that much more ravenous for not just my mom’s cooking but for more stories that include this on page representation.
Regarding music and choir, the immense respect, passion, and love that Lim has for each sings beautifully throughout the book. I was once one of those middle and high school sopranos sitting on a plastic chair on the risers, and the love and nostalgia had me smiling as I was reading as I remembered my own time singing Handel’s “Hallelujah” as well as drunkenly belting along to classic pop songs at the local dueling piano bar (San Diego’s Shout House, oh how I’ve missed you since moving away) as soon as I hit adulthood.
As a former choir kid, musical theatre lover, and Filipina American reader who is constantly and actively in search of finding reflections of myself in the books I read, I just want to say maraming salamat, Dominic Lim, for bringing this Fil-Am queer joy love story to life. We love reading Asian American queer joy!! I am so excited to read more of Lim’s writing in the future!! Thank you Forever and Netgalley for the ARC!
cw: (major) homophobia, f slur, parental death; (moderate) infidelity, casual transphobia, sexual assault, abandonment, outing; (minor) mentions of emotional abuse, mentions of alcohol abuse, car accident, abandonment, blood, injury, ableist language*
(non plot spoilery quotes from the uncorrected copy included below)
*Please keep in mind that I read an uncorrected advanced copy! But I found ableist language in this book in two forms: the use of the derogatory term “spaz” as well as shame for adults who need to use adult incontinence pads. For the former, Quito is told, “Don’t be a spaz.” The term “spaz” is specifically a derogatory term against folks with cerebral palsy since its root word “spastic” is in reference to the inability for a disabled person to control their movements. Please look into how Lizzo responded to backlash for using this term in 2022! The second use of ableist language is when Quito thinks to himself, “The sight of a packed auditorium can make the idea of adult incontinence pads seem perfectly acceptable.” This implies that anyone who uses this product are unrespectable and implies shame. Whether elderly folks or disabled folks or perhaps people recovering from surgery or pregnancy and have bladder incontinence need adult incontinence pads, saying that the idea of them seeming “perfectly acceptable” is ableist, and no one should be shamed for something that helps them live their lives. Again, I just want to emphasize that these come from an uncorrected advanced copy, so hopefully these can be fixed for the final copy!!