Chopsticks is a unique novel that tells the story of fictitious piano prodigy, Gloria Fleming, through the use of text, pictures, chat text, and YouTube videos. Gloria, whose mother died when she was young, was raised by her father, Victor, who trained her as a classical pianist. Described as the "Brecht of the Piano", Gloria was renowned for her "innovative performances of classical pieces alongside modern scores."
Gloria, however, has never really recovered from the loss of her mother at age seven. Despite hints of gradual but deepening emotional and mental turmoil, Gloria's life is one of strict schedules of practicing and performing in sold out concerts, worldwide. Until one day, Francisco Mendoza, a teen from Argentina moves in next door. Their blossoming love changes both of their lives and causes tension between Gloria and her father, who wants nothing to interfere with Gloria's career as a concert pianist.
The novel opens with the announcement of Gloria's disappearance. From there, readers attempt to piece together what has happened to Gloria by looking at the pictures, watching videos, and reading the text and IM chats, all of which recreate the events of her life up until her disappearance.
While Chopsticks appears initially to be similar to a graphic novel, it really is a story told in a much more intimate format. It is like looking through someone's personal scrapbook, with personal artifacts of their life displayed. For example, there are clippings of newspaper articles, pictures of piano recitals, programs, lists, personal notes and texts between Gloria and Frank.
The storyline isn't really unique, but the format is, with the book also being available through an iPhone app. My only complaint is that already, at least two of the youtube videos are unavailable (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaMclmrNnOQ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq1HSjZUL5l).
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
New York: Razorbill 2012