Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book Review: Stitches by David Small



Title: Stitches: A Memoir
Author: David Small
Publication Date: September 2009
Genre: YA / Memoir / Graphic Novel
Age: ?
Pages: 329
Series: no
Publisher's website: W.W. Norton
Author's website: David Small
Book Acquisition: Library

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.


Before I start my review - a small disclaimer, while this book has been technically classified as YA, in my opinion it would be better suited for those 18+. The subject matter isn't 'adult' but it's a true story. A very moving, yet somewhat terrible true story. 

Now with that said, I can say - this book was pretty amazing. I could remember hearing about it around the blogosphere a while back and it was on my reading wishlist. I tried really hard to find it at my local library and I failed the first time because I was looking in the totally wrong section. In my library, at least, it was in the non-fiction section. It is non-fiction, it is also a YA novel as well as being a graphic novel.

David Small is a wonderful story teller. His story is made all the more powerful by the fact that it's his story. His childhood, shared with us through his graphics, which are also wonderful. I don't think this book could have really been told in any other way but through graphics. It's such an intense and moving story and the pictures add so many layers. So much is said in a single image. Much more then could be said in pages of text.

I devoured this book in one sitting...and then read it again.

5/5 stars

Other Reviews:
Graphic Novels Challenge
Shootings Stars Mag

1 comment:

  1. O wow! I love a book that you love so much you instantly read it again.

    ReplyDelete



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