Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral

Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 272
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: 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...

My sister pushed for me to read this one after she did (twice) so she could talk to someone about it. When I saw it sitting on the new shelf looking all readable at the library one night when there were no patrons to ask questions, how could I resist it?
In the beginning, Glory disappeared. The story leading up to her disappearance shows that Glory is a piano prodigy, a kid that passed her younger years composing and playing big concerts. Her mother’s death and an increase of professional pressure from her father drew her to Frank, the artist next door who just can’t care about school. The more pressure that gets placed on her, the more Glory’s mind short circuits, until she can only play “Chopsticks” during her shows and she is placed in a “rest home” which sounds like a lovely term for “mental institution.” Is Glory’s reality true to life? Or is the reader shown a musical genius’s descent to madness?
This story flies by. Most of it is told in pictures, short documents, or notes like a scrapbook. I read it within 45 minutes on a quiet night at work--with patron interruptions. I thought I had this one figured out, most likely due to not even bothering to read past the first three or four lines of the summary. I assumed that it was going to be the story of the forbidden love between a piano prodigy and her bad boy neighbor that either ended in them forcing their parents to see the good between them or some sort of tragedy like death. Think Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, or in a more modern vein, Perfect Chemistry. I was WRONG. It is much less cliche and mostly about Glory’s psychological state than I thought it was going to be.
The psychological element to this story was well executed. It took some thinking on my part and a discussion with my sister to realize exactly what I thought happened. Now I want to go back and take a look to see all the little details I missed on the first go-around! The twists shown at the end were cool and creepy.
I enjoyed that the ending of Chopsticks is completely up to the interpretation of the reader! I don’t think I would ever buy this book, but if I did I would leave it on a coffee table so overly curious guests would read it and then need to talk about it with me. Maybe I’ll purchase a copy in the event that I ever purchase a coffee table. Or, you know, rent an apartment.

Rating: 4 - good.

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