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....
Anthony’s short stories can be found in Best New American Voices, Best American Nonrequired Reading, New American Writing and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony, the Ucross Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission. Her books have been published in a dozen countries and reviewed in The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and The San Francisco Chronicle. She will be serving as one of four Bridge Guard artists in Sturovo, Slovakia in 2015.
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 book 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.
If you haven't read Chopsticks yet, I'd strongly recommend that you avoid reading this review, and also the back cover of the book. It's an excellent story, best experienced in the dark.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Chopsticks is the sound of being young and the feeling of being in love. If the songs of Alanis Morissette are intellectual intercourse, Chopsticks is visual intercourse. As intimate as a diary and as beautiful as a painting, this avant-garde novel is a story of love, loss, fame, and obsession. Well crafted and brilliantly designed from cover-to-cover, Chopsticks speaks softly, yet effortlessly gets under your skin. Glory and Frank's love is as real as the flowers in the ground and blooms through modern art and music. The book itself is nothing less than a visual feast and an ode to mixed media. The tale of Glory and Frank's of love rises to the surface, but lightly woven into the fabric of these pages is a mystery that runs as deep as their love itself. Slight incongruities in the continuity provide us subtle clues as to how the mystery unravels. However, that fact that the teller of this story is an unreliable narrator opens up several possible solutions to the mystery it holds.
Through gentle visual clues, we are presented with the following evidence that something is awry:
1. The photos at beginning of book are taken in the summer, but the book seems to start and end in the winter.
2. The flashback is supposed to start around 06/07/08, but the events seem to start around 07/29/07, skewing the book's timeline.
3. The school Frank attends, The Willard Dunn School for Boys, and The Golden Hands Rest Facility, where Glory is sent to recuperate, share the same logo, address, and administrator.
4. Frank's locker has Glory's clothes in it, as well as the charcoal pencils presumably used to draw the art shown in the book.
5. Glory's home at 121 Usher Ave is for rent.
6. Glory's address at 121 Usher Ave is specifically mentioned in a newspaper article, which seems unlikely to occur in reality.
7. The pictures shown of The Willard Dunn School for Boys and The Golden Hands Rest Facility are identical.
8. Victor never ages.
9. The illustrations and paintings supposedly created by Frank are shown first with Frank's signature, and then later with Glory's.
10. Frank's package to the International School of Florence is not postmarked.
11. Glory is nine months away from her 18th birthday when she disappears.
12. The phrase "love is wild" is used by both Maria, Glory's mother, and Frank.
13. The label on the wine bottle Frank gets for his 16th birthday matches the one Maria gets for her birth year.
14. Glory's sixth admittance to The Golden Hands Rest Facility is on Frank's 16th birthday.
15. The screenshot of the New Yorker article about Glory shows CG Textures and Design Blog links in the bookmark bar. This may be errata in the actual book, but it's interesting nonetheless.
16. The year in the last line of the chat session dated 08/29/08 is displayed as 2007 instead. This may also be errata in the book itself, but equally interesting.
17. Frank is expelled at the same time Glory performs Chopsticks uncontrollably in her home during a concert for close friends of her father's.
18. Glory's house is drawn with tentacles around it.
I believe this is enough evidence to support any one of the following plots, although the first appears to be the intended progression of events:
1. Glory imagines Frank while recuperating from a supposed mental breakdown in The Golden Hands Rest Facility. Near her 18th birthday, she escapes the facility to take a job as a pianist with a cruise line that services mainly South American ports - the geographical region she obsesses over, following the death of her mother.
2. Frank moves to New York from Argentina and longs for home. He loves wine, boxing, and art, and imagines a girl, Glory, who has the same interests, living in the vacant house next door. His love affair plays out in his head as he sneaks around the vacant house, entering through the basement. After he is expelled from school, he returns to Argentina with the intent to become a winemaker, and dispels Glory from his head using this as an excuse.
3. Glory imagines her entire piano career and love affair with Frank while living as a resident in a mental hospital. Ultimately she commits suicide, and frees her mind in doing so.
4. The whole story occurs in the mind of an inebriated teenager, and is therefore completely unreliable.
Reading Chopsticks requires a different kind of literacy, one that is rooted in visual expression, interpretation, and interconnections. For this reason, it would be an excellent book for non-readers or low-literate readers to engage in.
While we may never know where Glory truly goes, wherever it is, our hearts go with her. The mysteries that remain are what keep the story alive, and ultimately draw you back to read it again and again.
This book was difficult because I like the format, but it wasn't the easiest story to go along with it. The conflict is more intricate than what can be seen on the surface-level, so trying to figure out what was unfolding got a little bit more difficult toward the end, and it was harder to connect to. I think this format of telling a story would be REALLY neat if it was something more approachable, more blatant. Although this was a unique storytelling experience, some of the imagery was lost on me, and it was just hard to gauge what happened, or to track any of the characters' emotional growth.
Man, this was beautiful. Absolutely stunning. Comprised entirely of photographs, and very little text, it ws easy to fly through but it made me really focus and engage with the viewing experience: I had to really look at each picture and decide what I thought was going on.
The photographs we're completely wonderful and I know I'm going to flick through this book often just to peak at the pictures. The story, too, was fantastic: I always knew what was going on, and was interested in what was going on, even though I was simply looking at pictures.
I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something romantic, stunning, and new :)
I've always love mixed media novels like Cathy's Book or Hugo that tell unique captivating stories through pictures and hidden clues. While Chopsticks excelled in the visual department, the story felt lacking. Truth be told though, the more I think about it after reading, the more sense it makes.
The main problem I think Chopsticks suffers from is that it takes for granted what can be inferred visually. This is a case where "a picture is worth a 1000 words" doesn't hold true. And that's pretty much evident from all the conflicting interpretations found on GoodReads.
I kinda feel like the author & illustrator used the intro statement of "We must decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along" as a copout to mask that they have constructed a completely incoherent story. Books are a medium where inference is hard and sometimes fewer words are not better.
Now normally I don't try to divulge too much of the books I read but in this case, I feel like I need to explain my interpretation of this story.
Even after all that, this book left me very dissatisfied. I feel like it could have done so much more in clearly telling its story. Maybe the app or movie will be better. I do not know. But for me the only "haunting" it will be doing is in how incomplete it felt. Fortunately, it's only an hour read if you want to give it a try. But if you want a truly haunting story with amazing writing, read Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now.
I should preface this review by saying that I am apparently no longer sympathetic to the romantic stupidity of youth.
I picked this book up after seeing it again and again and again in a discount store where I get a lot of my books from, and one day, on a whim, I bought it for $1.99. I now wish I could return it and get my $1.99 back.
The format is... different. Image heavy and super light on text, telling the story through a scrapbook style collage of images. I've never read anything like it before, and I don't think I'll be seeking anything like it out in the future. I have no issues with illustrations in books, or even graphic novels (clearly)... but that's art to supplement the story, not art AS the story. It just doesn't work for me.
I am a reader. I like to read words, see the pictures in my head, imagine the story unfolding... I do not like having to piece together a story told in staccato images, IM conversation snippets, Youtube links, wine labels, progress reports, and gaps that I must fill in myself. That's not writing, it's just lazy. Some, maybe many, will like this format. I'm not one of them.
Regarding the story itself. Meh. I see what they did there... the kids in love, the parents who can't understand that the love makes the kids happy, but just want what is best for them, and by trying to guide them to success, just make them miserable and desperate. The good girl, the troubled boy. The "I'll give up everything to be with you" romance. The parents who can't see the pattern of their own heady in-loveness being played out in front of them in their kids.
Whatever. It's been done before. The only thing different is that this time it's in pictures.
I was not at all surprised by the ending. It was just as stupid as I feared. I will say that I had hoped for better... that some insight or maturity might suddenly occur, and things might actually not make me want to chuck this "book" in the wood chipper... but no. It was as predictable as they come.
Oh my goodness. This book is surprisingly good. My expectations for this book were pretty low in the beginning, but after reading it, I somehow still few like I need to look back at this book to understand more about it’s deeper meaning.
To be honest, I read this book in a bookstore. It took me about thirty minutes to finish this book mainly because it is a picture book. Again, I will be honest, I sometimes do judge books by their cover and seeing this book for the first time, I was hesitant to read it. The cover reminds me of typical young adult contemporary book about teen love.
Basically, by flipping through the pictures, it is about two different neighborhood teenagers who (a bit instantly) fall in love. Gloria being a piano prodigy and Frank being an Argentinian boy coming into America and showing his artistic abilities. Within these pictures, you understand both sides of their characters and their slight struggle being together as a couple with Gloria’s career as a piano prodigy. Seriously, something about these pictures (even if many of them did look a tad bit staged) was strange and mysterious. It was interesting seeing pictures that portrayed the point of view of the characters.
There are a few things that I didn’t quite like. One was Gloria’s dad Victor who didn’t really serve that much of a purpose except be a stereotypical mean parent of a prodigy who won’t let the child live life and makes them practice all the time. He’s (I believe) the antagonist of this story which I wish he did change within the story. Both Gloria and Frank started getting annoying during the middle of the book. They were both in love and they seem to have almost made their relationship worse.
I don’t think there is a real message in this book. I just know this book makes you think. This is quite psychological. By the end, usually you might have to go back to certain parts of the book just to piece together everything that you just read. In my mind, that was the winner. I loved how there are some forms of symbolism and metaphors that cause readers to think twice about what happened earlier in the story. Usually I don’t give five stars to books, but I feel that this book is worth a 5 out of 5 stars just for it’s purpose of making the reader think. Sometimes I can’t help but think about if there were more things to understand about this book. I recommend this book to people who want to read something that will cause them to think later on after reading this book. If you go to a bookstore like I did and come across this book (and if you have time to burn), consider reading it.
Spoilers! (major spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned!)
This is the first time I did spoilers. I mainly want to talk about the psychology and symbols that happened within the last part of this picture book.
The plot twist was extremely unexpected. It was a subtle twist at the start, but it grew to a point where the reader can get confused. To be honest, I was confused at the part with the picture of the rest facility admission sign in paper. Looking at the dates, it lists dates about two years after Gloria’s mom died (I think I got that right). No where in the book before that part does it say she ever went to a rest facility for piano prodigies. Continuing onward, I noticed things such as her painting a familiar flower that was shown earlier that Frank painted. By this time, I was overly confused. The more and more I flipped through the more you see loads of similar things from earlier. There is another point where it shows a wall of drawings that are of Frank’s but look closely. Instead of his name signed at the bottom, it is Gloria’s. The rest facility’s stationary is exactly the same as the school Frank attended and was expelled from. It even had the same name. (Hmmm. Strange). I still was confused here. I didn’t understand the wine bottle, the map, or the boxing jacket till the end.
Gloria seems to have formed a psychological disorder (possibly schizophrenia or multiple personality). I’m leaning more on schizophrenia. She most likely formed it from the death of her mother and her dad giving her practices schedules that made her less of a child. Here at the end, you realize that she completely made up Frank in her mind. She made a whole story of her chemistry with Frank. This is where the wine bottle and everything takes place.
Gloria’s mother had plenty of wine bottles. There was one specifically with a face and a name. That’s how she formed his appearance and his name. She had the map of Argentina. That was where Frank was from. She somehow got the boxing jacket (it was plain) and she heard the name of a famous boxer and sewed the name on the back of it. Frank was a fan of boxing and of the boxer on the back of the jacket (which earlier he “owned”). She saw the stationary of the facility and made the facility the school Frank attended. Then there is the display of paintings and drawings with Gloria’s name instead of Frank’s.
It’s questionable whether or not they are the same person (due to her artistic ability) or that she missed the love of her mom and created someone to be with her as she struggled being under the power of her dad. Everything here seriously made me flip back and forth to earlier pages just to make sure I was understanding things right. From my book blog tumblr The Never Ending Bookshelf
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This high concept, super hipster, young adult graphic novel left me a bit cold. Though its clear it would like to take you on a deep, thought provoking journey into the mind of a troubled teenager I never really skimmed any further than the surface in this mixed bag of obvious imagery and cliched "gotcha" moments.
Glory and Frank are your typical Romeo and Juliet teenagers. She's a virtuoso piano player being raised by a hard as nails dad who's terrified of losing her following her mother's death. Frank is a recent immigrant from South America who falls head over heels for Glory the second he sees her. Faced with her grueling touring schedule and her father's intense dislike of Frank the two lovebirds would appear to be doomed. We watch their blooming love through a cornucopia of photographs, ticket stubs, IM chat logs and other random detritus that people accumulate in their lives.
It's a relatively clever way to tell a story if somewhat kitsch. Some of it is simply silly. The death of Glory's mother is told through two Christmas cards. The year prior to her death is a card with a laughing Glory and her mother wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and the opposite page features Glory in a Santa hat and her dad literally frowning into the camera with a message thanking everyone for their support. Who the hell sends a card like that?
The other problem is rather then tell a simple story in a fairly cool way the authors have opted for a "Memento" style "is any of this really happening" bait and switch that's designed to make you go back to the beginning to work out what's really going on and whether or not one of these kids is even a real person.
I'm either too stupid to do that or the book is actually designed to be unsolvable but rather then creating a sort of dreamy open door ending that lets you imagine whatever you want I was just frustrated and frankly annoyed. I'm not a fan of reading material that makes me feel stupid.
Because this is a visually told story with presumably real photographs, student ids, chat's between two separate people etc. I'm assuming that all this stuff is real. As in these are real things I'm looking at that actually exist in the world. If one of these people isn't real why is the other one imagining a student ID? Or a fictional letter of expulsion complete with school letterhead? Granted I'm not crazy (shut up) so I don't really have a frame of reference but I don't think that's how disassociative disorder or whatever works. You can hear voices but I don't think you generally see the voices driver's license. So leaving "clues" in the form of clothes both characters seem to be wearing at different times or art work one or the other of them might have drawn is fine. IM convo's and letter exchanges between possibly non-existent background characters is just weird. Does one person have two computers with different IP addresses?
Also if one of these people isn't real then the other one is really, really sick. Like probably shouldn't be operating in society sick. Its not romantic or tragic, its dangerous and super duper creepy. This is a person who's fantasies or delusions are so real to them they've literally got a whole life built on them. Its not charming to be left wondering what the hell was going on here its kind of frightening and deeply sad.
This was creepy and kind of awful as opposed to wistful and romantic. Though it is entirely fitting that the artist behind it is "deeply committed to transcending the visual possibilities in art, in culture, and throughout the universe." I assume he is equally committed to his fedora and calling women "milady."
I wasn't expecting this book to be as mysterious and creepy as it was. It also took me a while to get the symbolism of Chopsticks: the notes F & G representing the main characters of Frank and Glory and Chopsticks is described as F & G notes starting off close together and moving farther apart.
The format of telling a story through pictures lends itself to great discussion on making inferences and predictions (with older readers of course) but the story itself just didn't feel believable. I realize a lot had to be written for readers to know what's going on, but it seems highly unlikely a school would suspend or expel a student via written letter. That is something you tell a parent in person or over the phone. It was little things like that that prevented me from thoroughly immersing myself into Frank and Glory's world.
Este es uno de los libros más únicos que he leído.
Sin duda lo mejor de este libro es el formato. I mean, esta contado enteramente por fotografías. Fotos excelentes may I add. Este es de esos donde la belleza va más allá de la historia. Solo puedeo imaginarme el trabajo que hubo detrás de este y me impresiono cada vez más. Es de las experiencias lectoras más únicas que he tenido.
Si tuviera que ponerle un pero, sería también con el formato. Mientras más avanzando te das cuenta que la historia es más profunda de lo que aparenta, y por esto mismo que son fotografías solamente hay un límite de lo que puedes profundizar. Especialmente con el último cuarto del libro, me hubiera gustado que se desarrollará más, o que se buscara la forma de darle más spotlight a lo que se te estaba contando.
De los personajes no puedo hablar mucho, porque no puedes conocerlos más allá de lo que se te muestran en las fotos. Glory y Frank tienen mucho que explorar, estaría muy bien si se retomara la idea de este libro y se hiciera en formato novela, pera darles más profundidad.
En fin, que librito tan especial. Es de esos que quiero tener en mi librero por la simple calidad y estética. El hecho que me haya gustado es un plus nada más. Si pueden leanlo, es uno que vale mucho la pena.
Whoa. I don't even know what happened in this unique scrapbook of a mystery. It reminded me a little bit of Black and White, a little bit of Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, and a little bit of the movie Black Swan (not in the scary sense, just in the sense of "what the HECK is going on?"). Intriguing and unusual. Has anyone tried the app???
"Reading Chopsticks is like watching people kiss in the street: it's private, it's beautiful, it's lonely, it's wild, it's secret, it's everywhere and you can't look away." --Daniel Handler
As a lover of books, I often find the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words” to be somewhat hard to swallow. After all, doesn’t a single page of words create works of art in one’s mind? Aren’t words in a novel merely the starting point of a single reader’s imagination? Imagine my surprise, then, when I read CHOPSTICKS by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral, and fell in love with the minimal amount of words splashed across the pages and the rich and lush photographs that depicted a story of two individuals in need of something more.
Or is it the story of a single person’s descent into madness?
CHOPSTICKS begins with the disappearance of Gloria “Glory” Flemming from a rest home for piano prodigies. Told through photographs, instant message conversations, YouTube videos, and more – and displayed as a scrapbook of sorts, readers will follow Glory’s ups and downs. From her parents wedding to her birth announcement to her rise in the music world, Glory seems to have everything under control. But for every high, there is a low, and Glory soon finds herself in a downward spiral, a descent toward insanity that seems to only be calmed by the new boy next door, Francisco “Frank” Mendoza from Argentina.
The tale of Glory and Frank is a forbidden one. It’s also a tale of hardships and errors. Glory’s father, who is also her piano teacher and somewhat of her manager, doesn’t like him and it seems like he will do anything to help his daughter shine in the spotlight and get rid of Frank, even if it means touring in Europe when Glory doesn’t want to do it. Back home, Frank is in danger of failing out of school and yearns for the day he will see Glory again.
And see each other again, they do, but not everything may be what it seems like.
A haunting book, CHOPSTICKS is both interesting and intriguing and is bound to capture the attentions of readers at any age. What I assumed would be a campy book instead turned out to be one of my most interesting reads of the year. When it arrives in bookstores in February 2012, an iPhone/iPad app will be launched alongside of it. I, for one, cannot wait to see the app, but what I’m most looking forward to are the conversations I am bound to have with other readers. CHOPSTICKS is a book that needs to be read and/or looked at more than once. Some people may see it as a love story and only a love story. Others may see it as Glory’s journey to find herself. Still, some others may read this as something entirely different.
It’s possible we may all be right in our thoughts.
The first impression I got after "reading" this was probably the intended response: Aw, how sweet. That didn't last.
Disney movies are often accused of giving girls unrealistic/unhealthy perspectives on relationships but I have noticed this trend much more in Young Adult literature. This book, especially. The girl is a gifted pianist, she loses her mom, meets a cute neighbor boy, can't focus on her music anymore, dad overreacts to get her to back on track, girl can't play anything but Chopsticks. Her career goes down the toilet. Dad puts her in some sort of musicians rest home (is there such a thing?) while the boy moves back to South America(?). The girl escapes, leaves her dad and career behind to follow this boy.
And the message we're sending young ladies would be...what? Give up on your talents, dreams, career, family because you found a boy you like. The boy didn't give up anything. He moved back to his hometown because that's where he wanted to go, that's where he was happy. He didn't stick around to wait for her to get out of this institution, he just left and essentially said, 'come find me.'
Sorry but that is absolutely ridiculous. Sure it seems romantic at first but once you start thinking about it, not so much anymore. How about the dad? I don't think he should have stuck her in a "home" but his daughter was all he had left. Did anyone think of that?
Perhaps this is the short-coming of this type of media. You don't get enough nuance, detail, character development/motivation to completely immerse yourself in the story. It is a very fractured way of telling a story. It is interesting and beautiful but this kind of story just didn't seem to work in this format. Check it out, by all means, it is a super quick read. Feel free to disagree with me. I love discussing literature with people who don't agree with me almost more than those that do agree.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Eu tô encantada com esse livro. A história é toda contada em fotos e mensagens (tipo um scrapbook). Vou mostrar algumas páginas em vídeo para conseguir explicar melhor. Foi uma experiência muito interessante. Senti como se tivesse lendo um álbum de fotos de um casal desconhecido que o esqueceu em algum lugar. Várias referências musicais e várias fotos fofas e inspiradoras.
I've gone through a lot of trouble to buy this book. I ordered it, waited (over a year-if that's not patience, I don't know what is), it never arrived. I got my money back so I ordered it again even though it was the double I paid for it the first time and in the span of a month both copies arrived. o_0
Chopsticks is nothing like all other books out there. It's filled with pictures, articles, concert invites, news reports. You might think that's strange but I loved it. It made me fill out the blanks and finish off the story without really seeing it all in print. It's fascinating.
Both Anthony (the author) and Corral (the photographer) have put so much effort into this story. This type of book reminds me of those 'how the movie was made' books. It transports you into the lives of these two young lovers and it's simply magical. I might not agree with their rash, teen brains but I'll be damned if that prevents me from adoring this book.
[Monday, March 26, 2012] I LOVE graphic novels, so basically I got this book because it's in the form of real photos and few words. In any case, this novel made me go to YouTube to check Chopsticks out and made me want to order Pablo Neruda's poetry book, so I can read his work.
[Tuesday, April 21, 2020] Glory is a young piano prodigy. She lost her mom and lives with her dad who is also her piano teacher, Glory falls in love with the new kid in the block Frank. Her dad doesn't like Frank, he thinks he distracts her. Glory is towering Europe and keeps playing Chopsticks all of a sudden in her performances.
If you didn't read the book don't continue. So Glory is sick, she is put in an institute because they suspect she's going crazy... Frank isn't real which is really the sad part. By the end, it isn't clear if she truly ran off or committed suicide. We just learn that there's no Frank.
This book was insanely good. I was guessing up until the very end, and had no idea what was going to happen. I really loved the story, and the very big twist that it ended up taking. In this story, Gloria ("Glory") is a seventeen year-old piano prodigy who has just been classified as missing, after escaping from Golden-Hands, a rest center for piano prodigies. So, to figure out what exactly happened to her, we go back 18 months earlier. Francisco Mendoza moved next door from Argetina, and they quickly started a relationship. He learns about how her mother died when she was only ten years old, and how her father only really cares about, at this point, her playing piano. Francisco excels at drawing and painting, and loves wrestling, even owning a jacket. When she goes to Europe to tour, she begins to play the song "Chopsticks" everytime she thinks of him, until it is pretty much all she is playing. After Francisco gets kicked out of his private school, William Dunn, and Glory botches a performance at Carnegie Hall to play "Chopsticks", forcing her father to put her into Golden Hands resting home, so she can have a break, they lose contact. However, all she does whilst she is there, is play "chopsticks". As the last third of the book continues, you realize that Francisco didn't paint or draw anything. Glory did. He didn't have a wrestling jacket. Glory did, and she brought it with her. You realize that William Dunn High School isn't even real, and that it's name (William Dunn) is actually Golden Hands' Chief Administrator and that its "school symbol" is the exact same as the Golden Hands symbol. You start to realize that Francisco is just a product of Glory's imagination, and that he isn't even real. Towards the end of the book, it shows all of "his" paintings with her signiture on the bottom, one of her mother's wine bottles has a picture of a face that is similar to "Francisco's", and Mendoza is a town in Argentina, where the very same wine was made. At the end, it shows a letter written by "Francisco" (in Glory's handwriting) to Glory, about how "he" is leaving, and "he" wishes her to join him, and how "he" loves her. We are lead to believe that she has a mental illness (possibly multiple personality disorder) and that her entire relationship with Francisco was made up. That she ran away to Argentina, because that's where "he" was. I loved seeing the twist in the story. When I picked up this book, I was expecting a sweet book, where the couple ends up together in the end. This is obviously not what I got. I loved the character's, and how it was really up to you what was real, and what was imaginary. After finishing this book, you will be tempted to read it again, just to try and pick up on clues that you might have missed the first time around.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Did I miss out on anything? It feels like there was something I missed out on. I tried to get back to the last few pages and I was baffled even more. Maybe the book wanted to leave it at that, and I wouldn't want to sound pretentious, nope I am not being pretentious here, I just simply loved the whole of it. No sugarcoating or anything, just the pure truth. I specifically liked that it was a novel narrated thru pictures and snippets and cutesy letters passed between two individuals. It is like you are witnessing a love story unfold your very eyes, a love story with of course down sides and struggles. But what got me was the last part, was Frank even real? That has been bothering me, was he all made up by Glory? The fact that the book puzzles its reader is really something wonderful, it is like you are told a beautiful story and you get to choose the ending, you may make it tragic or turn it into a happy one. The pictures set a haunting and riveting feel to it, it was melodramatic and poignant, but satisfying at the same time, there is just too much uniqueness surrounding this book. It is truly beautiful, that too much words were not necessary, the whole book speaks for itself. It was mysterious and baffling, but within its mystery I found myself coming up with different conclusion, and each of these conclusions paved way to more questions and new theories, it will be a never- ending cycle, but I am more than okay with that. I love that when in the future I decide to reread it, I will then again be bombarded with a different theory, it is like reading it for the first time, and not all books can do that, offering an alternative ending to a one solid story. Ahh, I feel like I am not making sense, I just can't put into proper words about how enthralling this book was. I also specifically loved the use of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda in one of the photos. I think I have found a new favorite!
This novel's story is told entirely through photographs, which hold the promise of secrets that will unlock the story at second glance. They demand to be returned to: scoured and compared and reveled in as you follow the story and then retrace your steps when the mysterious ending is revealed.
At the start, you learn that piano prodigy Gloria "Glory" Fleming has gone missing. Then, you are taken back to the beginning and shown in detail the 18 months prior to her disappearance.
Chopsticks is the story of young love. It's the story of a piano prodigy. It's the story of desperation, madness, and a family wound tightly by tragedy, like a piece of piano wire.
When you finish this gorgeous, spare novel, you will flip back through it, hunting for clues about the meaning of the ending. To find these clues, you will scour the photos that fill its 300+ pages. Photos of articles with phrases underlined in red, photos of pencil drawings, wine bottles, love notes, and even photos of photos.
It is a story unlike any you have ever seen. It will engage your mind and your eye; your sense of mystery and your sense of aesthetics. However, it left my emotions relatively untouched - there is a distance and a coldness that comes when you place the story outside its characters.
You, the reader, are an observer. You are flipping through a family album that depicts mystery and tragedy. You are a detective; you are solving a puzzle.
You are not, however, a friend and sympathetic listener to the lonely heroine. You cannot comfort her, and your are not invited into her heart or her thoughts. The closest you come to her is by viewing handwritten notes and hand-drawn art, the utterances of a soul.
Read it for its beauty and its puzzle, but do not seek a friend in its pages.
**Full disclosure: I received the book for free through Goodreads First Read.**
glory is a piano prodigy. after her mother died, she retreated into her music. her father raised her with the goal of playing sold-out shows at carnegie hall and across the globe. brilliant and lonely, glory is drawn to frank, who moves in next door frank becomes glory’s connection to the world—and her escape from reality. before long, glory is unable to play anything but the song "chopsticks"; f and g notes moving closer together, and farther apart.
artsy people will probably find the aesthetics to their liking. i know that is what drew me to this book.. what makes this different from other novels isn't the story but its execution, which ranges from letters, doodles, notes, instant messages, post cards, invitations, newspaper articles and music/music sheets depicted in photo format. an intimate snapshot of two desperate teens. [ video ][ chopsticks app ]
Unfortunately, this book is 95% gimmick - it's told through scrapbook style visuals: newspaper articles, photographs, artifacts of life, and some texting. We get the plot, but there's no story. How did Glory's dad get to be the way he is (an a-hole)? What's the basis of the relationship btwn Glory & Frank anyway (other than they are both teenage models)? Why is the rest home run by the guy who runs the boy's school that Frank briefly attends? The gimmick kept trying to tell me what their personalities were, but it was just a veneer. Maybe this works better in a more interactive format? Any iPad readers out there?
oh &: after F&G get nudie with each other, you see his sketches of a topless girl... with at least a D cup. Glory is a tall, skinny thing, and Frank is obviously taking liberties in his imagination. Sweet? Maybe. But couldn't they get the details right? Who is going to stick up for the A cups? Can't he appreciate her for who she is?
Chopsticks is the kind of book you read more then once in a single sitting, well technically not read per say, but the type of book you observe multiple times.
This book is about more then just words on a page, instead Chopsticks chooses to tell its deceptively layered story through images and emotions instead of just plain old text. These various photographs, letters, paintings, drawings, and mementos tell a chronicle of Gloria "Glory" Fleming, a young piano prodigy, and her great young romance with her neighbour Francisco Mendoza. But there could quite possibly be more then meets the eye when it comes to the real narrative being told. There are two very different sides to this story and the only thing that matters in the end is which side you choose to believe in.
My hat is truly off to these creators, this form of creating a story must be no small feet to do. I can't imagine the work that must have gone into collecting all the resources and putting something this complex together. What might seem like a simple structured story takes on new meaning when every detail must have been planned and scrutinised again and again before this ever made it to print.
But with all that out of the way, let's get to the nitty-gritty of things. I liked the book, but it didn't completely amaze me. It was fun to flip through and interesting enough that the characters sucked me into their world. But this is not without it's detractors.
For one, I can't see this being particularly memorable on the whole. I know I'll remember that I once flipped through a book that was told through images instead of words, that will stick with me, but I don't know if come tomorrow morning I'll still care about Gloria and Francisco. This felt like just a tiny little blip on my radar compared to the feeling I get when I read a novel, or even a graphic novel, that I find equally interesting and compelling.
Another really major issue I had was that just by the nature of the medium, the scope of the story is very narrow. It's sort of like staring down a cardboard tube. You can see a tiny part of what you know is there, but your brain will have to fill in the rest and build extra dimensions to a two dimensional story. Now, the more you understand story structure and characters the easier this will be, but I found myself having a lot of trouble at times with the limitations of a story with such a very selective perspective. It made it less believable, less engrossing, that I didn't have any sort insight into anything but the three characters the book offers.
Needless to say, this book has me a little mixed. I liked it and while reading it I really liked it, but the longer I let it sit the more I have to go back to it and refresh my memory. I have a feeling this is something I'll come back to a few times in the next couple of days to re-experience, but it just doesn't have the long-lasting emotional pull that I expected it to have. Still, it was a amazingly told recount and has more then enough merit to recommend to anyone to just take an hour to look at it.
I saw this book on the shelf at the story and flipped through it, deciding that I just had to have this unique graphic novel. The story is a YA Contemporary Romance between a piano prodigy and the boy next door.
The story is told in photographs, instant messenger, newspaper clippings, and brief quotes. The photos can be of places, letters, drawings, and people. It was a unique format that could have confused or distanced me as the reader, but the team who put this book together did it in a way that I found compelling and touching.
The story opens with a background of Glory's life. Her parents getting together, their happy family, her mother's death, and her music teacher father molding her into a child prodigy pianist. Her life is structured and sterile.
All this changes when the house next door sells and Frank's family moves in. Frank and his family are immigrants. He struggles in the American school. He has an artistic soul and struggles with academics and athletics. He and Glory connect and grow a friendship and more. She shares her music and he shares his art. The two lonely souls have found a kindred spirit.
But Glory's father is driven and he cuts Frank out of her life. They go on a European tour. Glory is at a loss without Frank. They try to keep contact even as her dad works to control her even more. Glory slowly disintegrates and her music leaves her. Frank is making plans to go back home to South America begging Gloria to join him.
However, if the reader is paying attention, there is a whole lot more going on. Darker matters are in play. Did anything happen the way the reader is led to believe? The clues are there, but the reader is left wondering what is true and what really happened in this open-ended story.
Once in a while, I look for something different. I enjoyed how each picture said so much without words. I guess it is not a traditional graphic novel, but I enjoyed it. I would recommend it for those who might want to try a YA Contemporary Romance in pictures and messages.
On a side note, there is an interactive app that companions the book at the iTunes store. I didn't purchase it, but it does have extra content if anyone's interested.
The visuals were stunning and I think this is a very interesting and refreshing way to tell a story. As for the story itself I thought it was just okay. An insta-love story about two teenagers from completely different worlds. But still, I think it's cool seeing a story told through pictures, IM's, mix tapes, and post cards. I just wish the characters themselves were more interesting.
This might be a little closer to 3.5 stars for me. This book is told through pictures, Instant Messages, and there are even links to different videos as well. It's a book that you fly through, and then feel dumbfounded by the ending. I ended up flipping back through the pages and had to even look up some discussions of the book online before it really made since to me. On the back of the book it says, "But nothing is what it seems. And we must decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along..."
I recommend this book if you are a fan of picture books and definitely if you're a fan of psychology. I don't want to say too much. Just check this out from the library or spend a half hour at a bookstore and read through this. Definitely an interesting read that makes you think!
Over all this was interesting and makes you think, I'll give it that.
I wanted to like this book so very, very much. The trouble is that the graphic novel format - particularly the book's use of "found" photographs - doesn't support the world the authors seem to try to create. The way I see it, there are three basic interpretations of the book's "twist" ending (the part where "you decide what was madness all along"). 1)
The unique character and imaginative and moving story of Chopsticks made me fall in love with the novel. For this reason, I gave it five stars. Chopsticks message, find happiness, whatever the cost, pushed the envelope. The varied media and whimsical quality of blurry and shadowed photographs give the novel a dreamlike quality. Chopsticks would be a great tool to introduce younger readers to nonlinear modern fictions I give it five stars because of its experimental quality.
Chopsticks is a unique novel combining scrap-booking techniques, photography, prose, poetry, drawings, acrylic paintings, sketches, IM chats, and newspaper clipping to tell the story of Gloria and Frank. Two young people in love. Gloria is a piano virtuoso whose mother passed away when she was nine. Frank moves next store to Gloria in an old Victorian neighborhood in the Bronx. They forge a somewhat forbidden love, as Gloria's intensely over protective father has qualms about the "bad" boy Frank. Gloria leaves the country for many months to tour Europe and play concerts. love sick and picked The name of the novel becomes intricate to the plot. I won't give it away. "Chopsticks" may tend to appeal more towards females than males but I think both could find this experimental genre exciting. The novel is certainly thought provoking and would be a great book to teach.
The themes of the novel are: experimenting with sexuality, personal relationships with peers, changing relationships with parents, coping with the death of a parent, gifted young people, and mental illness.