Book Review: Chopsticks

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony
Release Date: February 2012 
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 304 
Source: Own

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

I have literally written and erased this review more times than I care to count. Never before have I struggled so much with putting my thoughts into words. Several times I’ve almost given up, but Chopsticks is a book that deserves to be talked about it. The unique format and ambiguous story had me hook, line, and sinker.

In one word, Chopsticks is haunting. While it has been weeks since I’ve read it, it is one I still think about. I find myself wandering back to the book (or app in my case) to reread it in search of new clues. On the surface, there is a sweet love story between Glory and Frank.  It’s a fast paced, sweep you off your feet romance full of CD mixes, late night IM chats, and cute photographs. Of course, with Glory being a famous pianist, her European tour and slow mental breakdown make the relationship complicated and near impossible. But surely love can conquer all, right?

The answer to that question is one that readers must decide for themselves. The unclear ending is both the best part of Chopsticks and what makes it so hard to review. There are so many things I want to ramble about, but instead I will simply say pay attention to everything. There are so many clues sprinkled within the 300 pages that even after rereading it five times I’m not sure I’ve caught them all. It kills me that I cannot say more than that. Seriously, I could write pages about my different theories and parallels to another great piece of literature (one I did my senior capstone paper on), but I refuse to spoil the experience. Honestly, even though I’m being vague, I feel as if I may have said too much.

Before I end this review, I do want to talk about the iPad app experience. I have yet to see the print version (hopefully soon!), so I am unable to compare the two. However, I really enjoyed reading it via the app. Interactive content was noted by floating music notes that when tapped revealed information. Some interactions felt pointless, like making simple text appear, but some of it was pitch perfect. I loved being able to play the YouTube videos and music songs instantly. In fact, being able to hear the songs that were chosen for the mix CDs brought the mood and meaning to a whole new light and made me feel as if I was a part of the story. The only thing that really annoyed me was how slow the IM chats moved/I couldn’t skip ahead. There were a few times I accidentally turned the paged before the chats were finished and had to re-watch the entire thing all over again. However, this is a very minor annoyance and would still highly recommend anyone experience Chopsticks via the app. I love where publishers are taking these interactive experiences and can only hope they will open it up to more platforms/readers.

If you are still on the fence about Chopsticks, I recommend taking the leap. It will be unlike any book you’ve ever “read”. I can easily say this will be one of my favorites to book talk to my teens this spring and summer.

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