Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Educate Emma: Books: Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

Dust Jacket Description:

"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…"
Chopsticks is an interesting feat because it is a story told all through unusual forms of media. Pictures, youtube links, drawings, report cards, advertisements, it is definitely not your conventional novel. Because of this, I've decided to shirk my own conventional review format.

Chopsticks is very good at communicating its story. We learn quickly of the personalities of Glory and Francisco and their struggles. Situations are effectively explained in odd ways. It really proves how a small amount of information can be incredibly communicative. It's because of its medium that I think Chopsticks is worth reading, or more aptly, exploring. Telling stories in a way that incorporates visual and new media is something that I think should happen more regularly. 

While Chopsticks has a great medium, I found myself disappointed with its message. Glory's story of falling into mental illness could have been a lot more interesting with a few more hints of depth. The teens are clearly engaging - with their obsessions with music and language and literature, they're fun to follow for the thirty to forty five minutes that the book takes to read. But their love seems, well, inherently teen-like due to the lack of narration. There's no internal weight to the piece, and so all we see is their mad declarations of love and plans for the future. They talk of their powerful bond, but their relationship just made me want to roll my eyes. It's so...teenage, and without narration backing it, it got annoying. I also found the ending dissatisfying. 

Chopsticks is a gorgeous book, and it is very clever. But the story that it follows just didn't hold enough depth or provoke enough interest to make me feel for the characters. Awesome form, lacking in emotional function. 3 flowers. 



  1. Great review. We definitely want to check this out, for the originality factor if nothing else, but you're the first not to absolutely rave about it, so it's kind of next to get a reality check on our expectations. ;P

    1. Haha, oh boy. I'm glad I may have helped you guys, but sorry that your glee has been diminished! Some people may find the story worth the medium, but I still thought it was a little irritating. Totally worth seeing for the brilliance of its execution, though.