Tag Archives: prodigy


chopsticks_01I saw a positive mention  of Chopsticks: a Novel on a list of notable Young Adult books. I sincerely wonder if I got the wrong Chopsticks. Perhaps there’s another book by the same name?

The Chopsticks I read, is an unusual novel as it’s told mostly through photos, IM messages, and improbable letters and brochures for performances. It’s the story of a teenage romance between a piano prodigy and an Argentinian exchange student who moves next door. Gloria, the prodigy, loses her ability to perform after her romance starts. She seems to have some sort of break down and she can only play “Chopsticks.”

The novel suffers for lack of prose, we never know more than the superficial. Frank, the love interest gets kicked out of school. Somehow he got into an elite private school that suffered a lot of bullying. His grades in most classes except art and ESL were low, which is hardly surprising given that he needed ESL. I know that’s a minor point, but why would anyone think someone from another country, who needs to take English as a Second Language would do well in American history in a class of elite native speakers. It was frustrating that so little of these conflicts was fully described. None of the characters seemed anything but cardboard. The only saving grace is that it reads fast as there’s so little to read.

The photos are okay, but nothing spectacular. Most graphic novels offer much more with their drawings.

The book may interest teens, but it’s not the sort of Young Adult work that appeals to older readers as well.

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Posted by on January 4, 2014 in YA


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An Abundance of Katherines

abundance katherinesColin Singleton, the hero of John Green‘s An Abundance of Katherines, is a dumpee. Time and again, 19 times in fact, he’s been dumped. Every time this prodigy, who’s just graduated high school, has been dumped by a girl named Katherine. He developed his penchant for Katherine’s when he was 8. Some “relationships” lasted minutes, some months. Losing Katherine XIX devastated him. Thus to shake off this bad feeling whiz kid Colin and his friend Hassan take to the road in Colin’s jalopy, which he calls Hearse

The story is clever and I enjoyed Colin, Hassan and Lindsay. Yet I was so keenly aware of Green’s cleverness that I never got lost in the book. I was always aware that Green was telling a story. It’s quite clever, though far from realistic. The boys drive to a small town in Tennessee where they meet Lindsay, who’s a beautiful woman, their age, who is a tour guide for the Archduke Ferdinand’s burial site. Before you know it, Colin and Hassan are working for Lindsay’s mother and living in their pink mansion. The boys must interview old folks for an oral history of Gunshot, Tennessee. While they’re in Gunshot, hanging out and working, Colin has time to figure out an equation that can predict how long a relationship will last and which party will dump the other.

There’s a lot of banter and interesting esoteric remarks. It’s a fast read, and I liked that the cover shown above was designed by a reader. In fact, it’s a lot better than the professionally designed earlier covers, if you ask me. The novel’s end is rather pat and predictable. Still it’s a decent book.

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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in American Lit, contemporary, YA


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