Stitches by David Small

Stitches by David Small: Read in September, 2009 – copy purchased for my high school library

Description from Good Reads:

Finalist for the 2009 National Book Award (young adult category): the prize-winning children’s author depicts a childhood from hell in this searing yet redemptive graphic memoir.One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had cancer and was expected to die.

In Stitches, Small, the award-winning children’s illustrator and author, re-creates this terrifying event in a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. As the images painfully tumble out, one by one, we gain a ringside seat at a gothic family drama where David—a highly anxious yet supremely talented child—all too often became the unwitting object of his parents’ buried frustration and rage.

Believing that they were trying to do their best, David’s parents did just the reverse. Edward Small, a Detroit physician, who vented his own anger by hitting a punching bag, was convinced that he could cure his young son’s respiratory problems with heavy doses of radiation, possibly causing David’s cancer. Elizabeth, David’s mother, tyrannically stingy and excessively scolding, ran the Small household under a cone of silence where emotions, especially her own, were hidden.

Depicting this coming-of-age story with dazzling, kaleidoscopic images that turn nightmare into fairy tale, Small tells us of his journey from sickly child to cancer patient, to the troubled teen whose risky decision to run away from home at sixteen—with nothing more than the dream of becoming an artist—will resonate as the ultimate survival statement.

A silent movie masquerading as a book, Stitches renders a broken world suddenly seamless and beautiful again.

I liked this, and recognize how well done it is, but I was never caught up in it.  (I keep trying different graphic novels and most just don’t ever sweep me in like a regular book does.  While I just can’t seem to fall in love with these books, I am VERY aware that this is just me and continue to buy them for the library as there are so many students who love them.)  It is a heartbreaking yet hopeful story that I do think many will appreciate.

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