Anthony, J. & Corral, R. (2012). Chopsticks. New York: Razor Bill. Print.
Since her mother died Glory has dedicated her life to playing the piano, until she meets the new boy in town, Frank. Follow along with Glory and Frank as their passions unfold and their lives fall apart.
Chopsticks is a story told in pictures. It isn’t exactly a regular novel, nor is it entirely a conventional graphic novel. It’s more of a scrap book that follows several story lines. It begins with a newspaper clipping that tells how teen piano prodigy Glory has disappeared from the Golden Hands Rest Facility, a rehabilitation center for musical geniuses. We learn that previous to Glory’s residence at Golden Hands she was developing a relationship with her new neighbor, Frank. The evidence of their love story is displayed in track listings of mix tapes, text message and IM logs, as well as drawings and photographs. In this manner we also learn that since Glory’s mother’s death seven years ago she’s been dedicating herself to her craft, and until Frank has had little distraction from her life as a musician. Her father, sensing the disruption of Glory and Frank’s relationship has on her playing, whisks her away for a European recital tour, against Glory’s own wishes. She is hailed as the “Brecht of the piano” by supporters, but something strange happens at her largest performance, and in a fit of insubordination and insanity, Glory finds that she can play nothing but Chopsticks for the duration of the tour. Things aren’t exactly what they seem though, and you’ll find yourself reading this title again and again to unravel all of it’s mysteries.
*Note: I read this title’s print form, and skipped the accompanying Youtube videos that were created to enhance the experience. Reviews suggest that the e-book versions integrate the multimedia aspect of this title brilliantly, making it a true groundbreaker in it’s field.
I enjoyed this title if for no other reason than that is was visually stunning. The arrangement of the pages, images and even the mix tapes that Glory and Frank exchange, were perfectly chosen and placed so that the reader is able to really grasp, assuming a certain amount of familiarity with indie music, what these two teens are feeling. It is beautiful and desperate, romantic and lonesome and heartbreaking all at once. The story may be a litte weak and predictable near the end of the book, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this title takes reading to a new level and will certainly appeal to all kinds of teens.
YA Fiction, Multimedia, High School, Art, Mental Illness, Contemporary
Supports literary response and analysis curriculum for grades 9 and 10:
3.2 Compare and contrast the presentation of a similar theme or topic across genres to explain how the selection of genre shapes the theme or topic.
3.3 Analyze interactions between main and subordinate characters in a literary text (e.g., internal and external conflicts, motivations, relationships, influences) and explain the way those interactions affect the plot.
3.4 Determine characters’ traits by what the characters say about themselves in narration, dialogue, dramatic monologue, and soliloquy.
3.11 Evaluate the aesthetic qualities of style, including the impact of diction and figurative language on tone, mood, and theme, using the terminology of literary criticism.
Would you consider this a kind of Romeo and Juliet type situation? Explain your reasoning.
How did you feel about the medium in which is book was presented? What were some of the most appealing aspects of the medium?
What really happened to Glory?
What does her inability to play anything but Chopsticks represent?
In what ways does Glory change after she meets Frank?
Why doesn’t Glory’s father want Frank around?
Reading Level/Interest Age
Many of the books in this collection share the same themes: teenage sexuality, mental illness and death are topics we frequently see arise. In this library we support our patron’s right to read and strive to defeat censorship. We encourage our users and their guardians to communicate with one another regarding what is appropriate material for their consumption and make a habit of not keeping records of what our users are reading.
This title is useful for several reasons. It plays on the idea of the star-crossed lover, giving students a chance to compare and contrast classic and contemporary literature. The medium by which the story is told also allows students look at how stories are developed and consumed through the ages.
Alternare title: The Selected Work of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
Reason for inclusion
Multi-media title, good addition for readers who enjoy visual and audio stories rather than the written word.