This book was not what I was expecting it to be. First of all I thought it was a regular old novel. Hoo boy was i wrong! Also,l I thought this book was about some teenage Chinese immigrant’s coming of age story. I’ve read one of those already on this reading list and I know for sure there is another. Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral tell the story of Glory Fleming, the seventeen-year-old piano prodigy, almost entirely through pictures. There are some chat conversations and letters in there as well, but mostly it is a scrapbook of pictures that fit together to tell a story without telling a story.
The novel starts off with the reader… viewer? whatever, finding out that Glory has disappeared from the rest home for young musical prodigies (is there really a place like this?) that she has been staying at. We find out that Glory was a world renowned piano player, but recently her playing has become erratic and at the rest home she would only play the song “Chopsticks” over and over.
The book goes back eighteen months. We find out about Glory’s parents, that her mother died sometime during the year 2000 and Glory was thrown into piano by her father, Victor Fleming who is very strict. The story suddenly switches over to a boy named Francisco. who is moving in across the street from Glory. Francisco is from Argentina and has moved to the States to go to a private school. He is an artist and his family owns a vineyard in Argentina. In one picture the reader sees that Francisco is suffering from racist bullying and is very angry. Glory and Francisco become friends, and eventually fall in love. They share a secret joke about the song Chopsticks, and I think Glory tries to teach Francisco how to play it. They also send each other videos of the song through chat. Victor does not approve. Oh, no he doesn’t. In order to get his daughter away from Francisco he makes Glory go on an international concert tour. Kind of extreme… daughter is seeing a boy he doesn’t like so he makes her leave the country… yeeeah…
So, now Glory and Francisco can only talk through letters and chat. It is obvious they miss each other terribly. Francisco starts doing poorly in school and lashing out at teachers and other students. The stress that Glory is under has started to show and she starts messing up her concerts by randomly slipping into Chopsticks mid song. Eventually, Victor must cancel the rest of the tour and they return home. After a rest, and some quality time with Francisco (I do believe they had sex… there was a couch and some words and then drawings of boobs…) Glory is ready for a concert at Carnegie Hall. Unfortunately, the concert does not go as planned and Glory seems to have a mental breakdown.
Victor is unsure of how to connect to his daughter and despite how much of a dick we are lead to believe he is he really does love his daughter and wants the best for her. I think Victor really gets the short stick in this book. Glory eventually moves into the Golden Hands Rest Facility (I did a quick Google search and I do believe this place or any place like this is fictional). She learns to knit.. why? who knows. Maybe knitting keeps your fingers nimble?
Now we’re back at the beginning of the book. Glory is missing. We find out she’s left a note for her father saying she’s gone to Argentina to be with Francisco , who (by the way) was expelled from his fancy private school while Glory was at Golden Hands.
Now. What do I think of the book? I think it’s a great way to tell a story, however, I still prefer good old print on page. This style of book, with the pictures as the story telling device, is too hard to interpret. Everyone who “reads” this book is going to have a slightly different story. What do I think of the story in general? Well… I’m usually a romantic, but, frankly, Glory and Francisco are stupid. Francisco’s parents send him all the way to America in order to give him opportunities they didn’t have by giving him a proper education and he wastes it all because he falls for a girl and loses it when she leaves. He just wasted his chance and his parents’ money. Glory has it all. Sure her dad is strict but that’s no reason to up and leave him when he has been working so hard to help her succeed. Victor did it all for his daughter and she repaid him by throwing her life away and moving to Argentina to be with a boy who got expelled from school. Now you’re probably thinking, ‘But they are in love! Love conquers all!’ but no. They are seventeen-years-old. Maybe they are in love, but that is no reason to throw away all the opportunities you’ve been handed on a golden platter. Stupid teenagers. That is all.