Multimedia collage tells the tale of a child prodigy’s struggle with madness in this app version of the novel for teens.
On paper, Anthony and Corral pushed narrative’s edge in this unsettling tale of star-crossed love and burgeoning talent. The app does as well. Using snapshots, newspaper clippings, postcards, concert programs, text-messaging conversations and illustrations, Anthony and Corral present a scrapbook-style biography of Gloria “Glory” Fleming’s extraordinary life from before birth to her disappearance at age 17. Glory’s prodigal talent as a pianist gains her world renown, and her love for Frank Mendoza, the boy next door, appears to be able to surmount all obstacles. But when Glory starts introducing the basic Chopsticks theme in performance and then finds she can’t stop, the shadow of madness casts a pall over the story, leading readers to wonder whether Frank even exists. This app’s interactive features underscore Glory’s instability. With the ability to zoom in, for example, readers can play detective and scrutinize key objects in the story, such as a wine bottle's label, that contradict her account. The ability to move photos on the page suggests their transience, and touch-screen English translations of Spanish passages make the spare text even more accessible. It's a pity that the app does not make fuller use of an audio recording of Chopsticks; instead, it relies on Internet access to view embedded links to YouTube clips (which don’t add appreciably to the work), making it less portable than the print version.
Though engaging, this app calls more attention to the medium than the message behind this wonderfully disturbing tale. (iPad book app. 15 & up)