Glory is a piano prodigy. Losing her mother when she was just nine she retreated into her music. Her father pushed her into becoming better and better, raising her to become a star, performing at sold out shows across the US and the world.
Glory is lonely with just her music for company but when Frank moves in next door she is drawn to him. He produces brilliant pictures, listens to her music and chats with her on IM when she’s meant to be sleeping. The two of them become almost inseparable and Frank becomes Glory’s connection to the outside world. Before long everything that matters to glory is frank and her piano, she is unable to play anything other than versions Chopsticks though, and each time the F&G notes get closer and closer, then further apart.
I have wanted to ‘read’ Chopsticks for a while now, the premise intrigued me and I wondered just how much an author could put across using snippets of conversation, journal entries and images… As a fan of graphic novels I knew it was obviously very possible but Chopsticks is different from even those, with the pictures often including random items and drawings which don’t seem to relate at first but soon start to make sense.
The book is almost told back to front with Glory going missing and then it skips back 18 months. I love that style of story telling and it worked really well in this book. I wanted to know why Glory wanted to run away. What made her escape the facility that was meant to be helping her… I fund out but I’m still not entirely convinced what I think was what happened, and that’s the magic of this book, different people can probably interpret the events completely differently. I think her father pushed her and was too hard on her, I think he wanted to control every aspect of her life and that’s why things that happen, happened. However there is a hint that perhaps it was something to do with her mother and her mothers behaviour before she died that has transferred to Glory. Chopsticks really does have the personal thoughts of the reader in its mind and its interpretation.
I loved Glory and thought her loneliness really shone through in the images used relating to her. Frank was awesome and I felt so bad for him when we see his high school reports and letters home. The worksheet that he had to fill in made me laugh so much because it really did seem like the school and education system were vying against him in the stereotypes they used but his responses were awesome. Glory’s father upset me a lot and I really didn’t like him but on the other hand that might just be my interpretation as I suggested before.
I loved the images and the snippets but I do think it was a bit loose at times. The perspective seemed to change and although I could usually tell which one, Glory or Frank, the perspective says meant to be on I wasn’t always sure, especially when it came to the drawings… I also felt that the emote wasn’t strong enough from Glory but maybe it’s because she had retreated into herself so much that she was unable to show a lot of it. I did love that there was mirroring in the perspectives and that some things that were related to Frank early on in the book were mirrored when it came to Glory later on. It did make me wonder if the relationship was real though or if Glory had made the whole thing up… Though she talks about her dad not liking Frank and things like that so maybe only certain things weren’t real… I don’t know!
All in all chopsticks is a very strange book to read/interpret. I would recommend it but maybe to people I know who will really concentrate on the individual aspects of it. Its a beautiful story but only if you read it in a certain way.
Chopsticks was published by Razorbill in the US, with Turnaround UK distributing in the UK from September 2012. My copy was sent from Turnaround UK in exchange for an honest review.
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