Published by Razorbill Books on February 2nd 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As we flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. The farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness. Before long, Glory is unable to play anything but the song "Chopsticks."
But nothing is what it seems, and Glory's reality is not reality at all. In this stunningly moving novel told in photographs, pictures, and words, it's up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along...
I have a confession to make. I actually bought this book without reading any reviews. That is highly unusual for me because I rarely buy any books (I’m a library girl through and through) and when I do, it’s under two circumstances: 1) I’ve read it before, loved it and would read it again or 2) It comes with the highest recommendations from my most trusted reviewing friends. Chopsticks is a bit of an enigma for me because out of all the books to choose from at Books-A-Million, I chose it simply because of its first impression. I was just about to leave out the door, unable to decide on which book to invest in or which one to waste my money on, when this huge “photo novel” with the weird title caught my eye, sitting on the end of a top shelf. One glance through the book and I knew it was for me: The entire story is told in photos of everyday things. It amazed me in five seconds, so I bought it.
When you first look at the cover, what do you think it’s going to be about? Well, for me I thought it was going to be your usual girl meets boy, yada, yada, yada. But Chopsticks is so much more than that. You see, depending on how you interpret the novel, it could actually tell two different stories. It could tell the simple contemporary story of sixteen-year-old Gloria “Glory” Fleming, a piano prodigy, who falls in love with Francisco Mendoza, a boy who becomes her escape from her stressful life. Sounds fluffy, right? Well, it can also tell the deep and dark story of a lonely, broken, child star pushed so hard to perform to perfection that she slowly loses her mind, causing you to question everything you see in the book or thought you saw. Do I have your attention yet?
Chopsticks is simply brilliant. The amount of time and skill it took to arrange the photos to tell this mind-bending story is commendable. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” definitely fits the bill here because there are hardly any narrative text in the book, yet I felt a very strong connection to the characters. This books really doesn’t need the extra words. Instead, the reader must follow the pictures of Francisco’s drawings, Glory’s concert programs, family photos, letters and images of household belongings. Chopsticks is very intimate in that way because it feels like you’ve been peeping into someone else’s life for eighteen months in only 272 pages. It’s the kind of book that you could zip through in thirty minutes, but by the ending it’ll make you go back and re-read it more slowly. It’s that easy to miss something.
I went out on a limb and purchased Chopsticks and I’m so happy I did. It took me on what I thought would be a simple fun read to an involved story that I couldn’t stop thinking about after I finished. I know I could read again and still have a healthy appreciation for the complexity of the story. So, if you are a visual person like myself and you’re looking for something totally different from your usual fair, Chopsticks may be the book you’ve been looking for.