The words “A Novel” adorn the top of the cover of Chopsticks – but that’s definitely a debatable label. No such limits necessary here! A hybrid creation by novelist/short story writer Jessica Anthony and book designer/creative director (for Farrar, Straus, Giroux, who is not Chopsticks‘ publisher, in case you were wondering) Rodrigo Corral, Chopsticks melds together photographs, tchotchkes and mementos, pictures and paintings, music scores, letters, and texts to create an enticing narrative that might or might not be reliable … [You can also further extend your reading/listening experience with videos and more on the book’s dedicated website, too!]
Without giving too much away (because the book is truly a journey of discovery …), allow me to offer a skeletal overview of the story. “World famous pianist Glory Fleming is missing,” shouts the breaking news a few double-page spreads into the book. The wayward teenager has escaped from Golden Hands Rest Facility, “an institution for musical prodigies,” according to a follow-up newspaper clipping which then leads to “18 months earlier” towards the who, what, where, why, and how … all of which you’ll have to piece together through remnants and clues, memories and expressions.
Glory is talented. Her medium is the piano. She doesn’t have a mother, but she does have a lonely, demanding, protective father. She thinks she’s found a soulmate in the newly arrived boy-next-door, Francisco, who’s moved to New York from Argentina. Francisco is talented, too – especially with blank canvases and color (as well as black and white), not to mention compiling fascinating mix-tapes (on CDs, as this is the 21st century after all). He’s struggling with academics and social life at his new school where his only welcome sign is a scrawled “Go Home Spic” taped across his locker.
Even more talented are the lovers’ creators. The theme song throughout is “Chopsticks” – which starts with the repetition of two notes together, F and G, then moves outward until the fingers eventually come back together. Are you getting this? The possible variations – together and apart, apart and together, repeat, repeat – are endless.
Francisco and Glory, Glory and Francisco: their resulting love story proves to be quite the mystery … perhaps one you may never quite solve. Did I mention something about variations? You’ve been warned. Now go experience their story for yourself …
Readers: Young Adult