Cliche but true, the Chinese proverb “One picture is worth ten thousand words” comes to life in this book. Chopsticks left my head full of questions. I found myself questioning my understanding of the story. That seemed to be the most interesting part of the book. Everything is subjective to the readers’ interpretations.
My Interpretation — It opens with pictures of breaking news stories about Glory Fleming, a piano prodigy, who has gone missing. Rewind 18 months before and Glory’s story starts to come into focus. Glory lives with Victor, her dad, piano instructor and manager (eek). She and her father have been through a lot of hard situations together, mainly the death of Glory’s mother, Maria. It almost seems like Victor used Glory and her talent as a way to escape his grief. Instead of helping Glory deal with the tragedy of losing her mother, he gets her to focus more on her piano skills, thinking that his way of dealing with death is right for Glory too. Just when you think Glory is going to be forever stuck with her father and a piano, in comes the cute Latino boy next door. All of Glory’s attention goes to Francisco “Frank” Mendoza. Her success as a prolific pianist seems to waver. Victor, thinking he is helping his daughter get over a “distraction,” sets up an international tour for Glory. She keeps in touch with Frank, but like all teenagers in love, is dissatisfied with not seeing him face to face. Glory crumbles mentally and seems drawn to playing Chopsticks during her concerts instead of famous sonatas she is so praised for playing. Her father brings her home and puts her into an institution for piano prodigies (aka. mental institution for piano prodigies gone unstable).
What really threw a wrench in my theory of Glory’s tale was the last few pages. The only thing I am sure of now is that Glory existed. She was a piano prodigy, possibly on her way to international immortality in the pianist world. She was mentally unstable. Other than that, all of my ideas are just my opinion. I think what was so successful about this book is that the authors didn’t spell out anything for you. They left the characters’ stories up to you. The message in this book was so strong I’m not sure words would be able to deliver the authors’ idea as well as the photos did. This was probably one of the most interesting books I have ever picked up. Interestingly enough, there is a digital version of this book where you can actually watch the youtube videos Glory and Frank IM to one another and see some select photos in the book through motion.