Wednesday, July 17, 2013

REVIEW: Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral

Title: Chopsticks (Graphic Novel)
Author: Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral Website Twitter
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 2, 2012
Pages: 304
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: 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....

First Thoughts: What an amazing book! It’s completely told through pictures, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Even though it’s all pictures, I did more thinking during this book than most books I’ve recently read. So cool!

I have never been a graphic novel reader. I enjoyed Maus I & II, I use graphic novels of the classics (The Odyssey and Romeo and Juliet) in class, but I’ve never thought to read them for pleasure. This book may have changed my mind!

First off, this book is not like the classic graphic novel you are probably picturing; there are no comic strips, cartoons, anime, or dialogue bubbles. The story is told through REAL photographs. I guess you could say there is a cast for the book - they acted out moments of the story and took still frames along the way (at least that’s what I imagined while reading). There are photos of people, of papers and notes, of mementos, of paintings, the list goes on and on. And, through this collection of odds and ends, you get a beautiful, heartbreaking story of love and madness.

I don’t want to give it all away, but there are some pages/photographs that really stood out for me. I loved the incorporation of Spanish (my husband’s a Spanish teacher, so I loved sharing this with him). There is a page where Frank is filling out a lame worksheet called “Let’s Learn English.” He’s supposed to just copy down the sentences but instead he reveals how extremely biased and racist they are. His responses made me laugh out loud (after asking my husband to translate a few lines for me, of course). On one of the paintings of a flower (loved the symbolism throughout) Frank writes “Love is wild and when it is cut returns again, stronger whether you want it to or not.” Love it! What a fantastic representation of love. And, not to give anything away, but the way they twisted the previously used pictures in the end? Fantastic!

The artistic beauty of this book drew me in, but the story captivated me. The pictures give you an insight into Glory’s mind, into her life. It almost feels intrusive at times. And the end? Holy cow! I am still thinking and questioning and trying to figure out exactly what happened (but, in a good way). I appreciated that the authors left it open-ended; they let the reader decide what was real and what was madness.

I enjoyed this book as a reader, but I really loved it as a teacher. It is completely unintimidating when you look at; it could be a great start for some of my non-readers. Even though it’s all pictures, there is SO much to analyze and discuss. I honestly thought more during this book than any other novel I’ve read all summer. I need to try and get my hands on a few copies for my classroom, because the possibilities of this book are endless!
Final Thoughts: A great twist on the graphic novel genre; I hope more authors start to go down this path. I loved the photographs and the story captivated me from beginning to end (in fact, I’m still questioning the ending; I keep changing my mind on what I think happened). So glad I stepped outside of my reading comfort zone for this one!

Who Should Read It? I don’t know that this book has a specific audience; it is so just so unique. I think it’s a great place for non-readers to start. It’s non-threatening in that there are few words, it’s quick, but yet it still makes the reader comprehend and think. I also think experienced readers will benefit from this book; it made me think in a different way than what I’m used to with novels. I plan on recommending this book universally, to all of my students.


  1. I read this book last year and never reviewed it because I just couldn't figure out how to review it. It is such a strange and interesting narrative. It actually took me a while to understand the twist at the end.

  2. Great review!!! :D Here's mine if you don't mind: