Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, February 1, 2010

Memoir Mondays with Stitches by David Small... A Graphic Novel, A Memoir and A Review

A Memoir in Black & White...

Stitches, written and illustrated by David Small, is his coming-of-age story told in graphic novel form. It's David Small's memoir of growing up in a family where his mother "had her little cough", sobbed quietly "out of sight", and slammed the kitchen cabinets to communicate. His father took his frustrations out on a punching bag, and his brother on the drums... and it's the story of the operation that would remove a vocal cord and leave David practically a mute...

There aren't a lot of words in Stitches. There really isn't a lot of need for lengthy prose- David Small's black & white ink drawings tell his story perfectly... I could almost feel his grandmother dragging me up the stairs to bed without supper.. I could feel the terror as he is put through shots, enema's and radiation to cure his boyhood illnesses. His drawings are so expressive and the bird's eye views he chooses to show certain scenes in, make the story a visually treat. They are not pretty pictures, but they are meaningful.

From "sock-skating" on a freshly waxed floor in the hospital his father "the radiologist" worked to finally having the operation to remove that cyst on his neck (which he'd find out later was really cancer caused by all the radiation his father gave him), Stitches takes you on a visual adventure of emotions. You'll get to know his often times cruel & dysfunctional family and feel the pains of growing up. I was surprised how haunted I was after I finished reading Stitches. I felt such pain for David growing up virtually unloved and isolated. A sensitive child trying to find his place in the world, trying desperately to have a relationship with his mother, but being let down each time the door to that relationship cracks open a bit, except for one final moment . This was definitely not my usual read, but part of my "reading outside the box" with The Graphic Novel Reading Challenge 2010. I chose this because it had gotten so much buzz and was nominated for The National Book Award in 2009 under the young peoples literature category . Only one other graphic novel has been nominated for the The National Book Award, and that was American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang in 2006. Stitches was a moving read, and one I am glad I stepped outside of my box to read! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to step into a graphic novel for the first time. And as far as the seasoned graphic novel readers are concerned... I bet you all read this already!


couponmom said...

This book sounds amazing. This was definitely worth retweeting

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi couponmom,
I had heard about this book a long time ago, even kind of glance through it once and put it down. But then I signed up for the graphic novel challenge and just happened to be in the library a couple of weeks ago and saw this book facing me on the shelf. I thought, what the heck, lets see what's so great about it... and I found out!

Anonymous said...

Wow this one sounds fascinating, dysfunctional family stories can be so rewarding in a way, they can make your own family look more reassuringly normal. David's family do sound truly frightening.

Wanda said...

Hi Suzanne, found your review link at GN's Challenge. I received Stitches as a X-mas gift from my daughter and absolutely loved it! It's currently making the rounds with my sisters but if I ever get it back, I plan to review it too! Glad to hear it was one you also enjoyed.

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