Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral.
This is a story told mostly in pictures which is curiously shelved as a regular novel rather than a graphic novel. That’s maybe because it’s told in photographs rather than drawings, though drawings and paintings that the characters make also show up. There are also programs, instant message conversations, homemade mix albums, and Youtube links (which I didn’t have time to look at), with just a touch of actual spoken dialogue. (If you buy it as an iPad app instead of a print book, the links are live and let you click right through.) In that way, it’s slick and modern and cutting edge of fiction, kind of. The story, though, is a twist on the age-old story of lovers whose families don’t approve. Glory is a 16 year old piano prodigy, famous for improvising mixes of classical pieces and modern rock on the stage. She is known, puzzlingly, as the “Brecht of the Piano” and has her first world tour lined up. But somehow, despite her father’s strict practice schedule, she finds time to fall in love with the boy next door, a new immigrant from Argentina called Francisco at home and Frank for Anglos. He’s an aspiring artist, but failing at school, mostly because he doesn’t care enough about America to put in the effort. With Glory, though, he is all sweetness and consideration. Glory’s father, however, sees nothing but a bum and tries to sever contact between Glory and Frank. The separation leads to madness – the less contact Glory is allowed, the less she can think about anything else. This directly impacts her on the stage, as she starts playing nothing but variations on “Chopsticks”. The tour is cancelled; she is sent to the Golden Hands Rest Home for Young Prodigies. The book begins with the ending: Glory has gone missing from the home, and no one knows where she is. It looked to me like she found a way to rejoin Frank, now 18 and able to return to Argentina. However, the back cover implies ambiguity and a potentially untrustworthy narrator. I’m not sure if that’s the authors being hopeful or me not having the patience to figure out puzzles, reading as I do in my chronically sleep-deprived state. I’d be happy to hear thoughts from anyone else who’s read this; otherwise, it’s an interesting scrapbook-style book that lets the reader put the story together.
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