Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral is not quite a graphic novel, but a mix of story with a variety of media images, including: photos, text messages, mix CDs, pencil drawings, TV screen shots, letters, emails, and even ticket stubs.
In alternating viewpoints, the romance between a genius musician and her next-door neighbor – an average student with an incredible gift for drawing – unfolds. The story opens with the “breaking news” of missing musician Glory Fleming. Glory, an extraordinary pianist, has in the past few years suffered from the inability to perform any composition other than “Chopsticks.” Every time she sits down to play, the only music she can perform is Chopsticks.
While it is left to the reader to decide whether her inability is due to mental illness, grief (dead mother alert!), rebellion against her very controlling father, or from having to “perform” almost her entire life and never getting to just be herself, her attraction to Frank is life-altering. From the beginning, Frank does not see her inability to play other music a problem. At one point, he shares a couple of YouTube videos (the links worked when I checked) to a variety of different “Chopsticks” performances. He never implies (like her father does) that she is doing anything wrong or that she is “broken” in any way. He accepts her for exactly who she is.
Obviously the father, does not approve, and removes his daughter by first sending her out of the country and when that doesn’t work, he has her committed. And I’ll leave it at that. If you want to know the ending, pick it up! It’s a very quick read. Ages 14 and up 304 pages
Recommended by: Heather Owings, Librarian, Maryland USA