Title: Stitches: A Memoir
Author: David Small
Release Date: September 8, 2009
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Graphic Novel
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In this memoir of his childhood, David Small discusses his relationship with his parents and troubled family life as a young boy. The book centers on Small’s surgery to remove what he was told was a cyst on his neck. Unfortunately, the surgery ended up leaving him without a voice when doctors took out one set of his vocal chords.
Stitches is a moving and emotional memoir about David Small’s childhood, starting from the age of six. Even from the first pages, it’s obvious that his relationship with his parents isn’t exactly healthy. My heart couldn’t help but go out to this boy, clearly unloved and neglected by parents that aren’t content with their lot. Small doesn’t sugarcoat what he experienced. As a result, his memoir is raw, with a lot of emotional scarring splashed onto its pages.
Though the pivotal moment in this book is Small’s surgery in which he loses the ability to speak, it doesn’t come until halfway through the memoir. The book as a whole is about not having a voice, but it’s more metaphorical than physical. From the beginning, Small is struggling to be heard by a family that doesn’t seem to care about what he has to say. When he loses his voice, it’s just a physical manifestation of something that had been occurring for a long time. It’s incredible and horribly tragic at the same time.
The graphic memoir format works very well in Stitches. The art is all black and white, which reveals a bleakness that might not have been as noticeable had the author used color. Additionally, the book is beautifully drawn. Small does an incredible job portraying his vivid emotions (especially frustration) through the artwork. It really adds to the book.
Though this isn’t a short book, the graphic memoir format makes it a very quick read. If you pick it up, don’t be tempted to rush through it. The artwork is worthy of careful study, and the story has quite the emotional impact. It’s a beautifully portrayed book that I highly recommend.