Review and Giveaway: Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

Publication Date: February 2nd, 2012
Format: Unknown binding, 272 pages
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
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….

This book said so little yet showed so much of its soul. It would make you stare at its wordless pages and  hypnotize you into believing that you were watching a movie where the characters do not speak. Reading this book is like putting together a puzzle, wherein the pieces are emotions and thoughts of a person you’re trying to construct because it’s the only way you’d learn who the character is. Chopsticks is beautiful and brilliant. Frustrating and insufficient.  But in the end, all you’re left with is a raw wanting that only a repeat of the entire experience could sate.

There’s a line in a song of an old 70’s band that goes like this:

“If a picture paints a thousand words, then how could I paint you?”

This book is a brilliant combination of scant words and profound images. If you’ve ever complained about a book and its ambiguity, then perhaps this book may not be suited for you. The author will not take your hand and guide you every step of the way. She will leave you in the dark hallway of this story so you can learn to fend for yourself.

The thing is, the synopsis hinted of madness. But is it really madness? I’m more inclined to disagree. I saw a girl who never really got over the grief of losing her young mother. I saw a girl who struggled to be a daughter and a prodigy. I saw a girl who grew up bypassing childhood. I saw a girl hopelessly in love with a passionate boy. And finally, I saw a girl so alone in her thoughts that even her music could no longer fill the void of isolation. I don’t think it’s madness. It’s a pressure that reached its tumultuous point. The authors forewarned that the reader would have to decide what is imagined and what is reality. Well, in my opinion, Glory’s madness is nothing but a product of her imagination. Her reality is waiting for her in South America, and unfortunately away from the source of that pressure – her father.

It would take a certain type of reader to fully appreciate its uniqueness.  I have been trying to write this review in my head and really, anything I say would be less deserving of this artistic, poetic, visual masterpiece. I know I’ve tried and failed to piece together some words to illustrate how Chopsticks made me feel and how I could convey those to whoever reads this review.

I’ll tell you this…Chopsticks is avant-garde, ambitious and daring. This book is a feast for the eyes and for the soul. It’s stunning, evocative, thoughtful and moving. But don’t listen to me, I think you’d have to read this and decide for yourself. All I can say is that, nothing could’ve prepared me for its minimalistic beauty and powerful words.

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