Stitches by David Small

stitchesLynn: Wow! I never thought anything would top my awed regard for Craig Thompson’s Blankets but Stitches (W.W. Norton, Sept. 2009) has elbowed through to do just that and the two stand shoulder to shoulder for me. Both books are coming-of-age stories, both explore the power of artistic expression (among other things) and both books slice right to the heart of the reader. Smarter people than I will do a better job of comparing and contrasting these two memoirs but I am content to admire them both whole-heartedly.

Stitches begins with a black page and the words “I was six.” Stark black and white panels zoom in to chronicle Small’s horrifying childhood. In a household ruled by the aggressive silence of his mother, David turned to drawing to shelter from an atmosphere saturated with hate and resentment. A much-delayed surgery at fourteen revealed a cancer (caused by radiation treatments inflicted on him by his father) and resulted in a severed a vocal chord, rendering Small silent and invisible to the world.

Stitches is about voice, finding it, losing it and finding it once again. It is about survival and the power of art to heal the heart. I can not imagine this story being told more powerfully than through Small’s intensely expressive illustrations. This is a must purchase for high school and public libraries.

nonfiction_mondayCindy: I read this in one sitting. I couldn’t stop. This is a book that teens will clutch to their chests and read again and again until the pages are frayed and the binding is compromised. Even though this is published as an adult title, this is a book that should be available for every teen to find, and for every librarian to promote to them. While not everyone survived a childhood as difficult as Small’s, every one of us survived something, and Stitches will help teens to realize that they are not alone in having dysfunctional families or difficult childhoods. We all need to find something to help us on our journey to adulthood. For Small it was art, for others of us, it was books. This graphic novel gives readers both. Thank you, David.

For a peek into the book and to see sample panels, check out the Stitches website where you’ll also find reviews including this perfect quote by Francoise Mouly: “David Small’s STITCHES is aptly named. With surgical precision, the author pierces into the past and, with great artistry, seals the wound inflicted on a small child by cruel and unloving parents.” And, while you wait for the release, here’s David’s video about the making of the memoir that will be coming to a bookstore or library near you September 8th:



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

7 Comments on "Stitches by David Small"

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  1.' Keir says:

    I have a galley of this and can’t wait to read it. Cindy, Ian Chipman told me the same thing: that, once I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop, and I’d read it in one sitting. So I’m saving it for just the right evening. Can’t wait.

  2. I thought it was excellent too; it made me think of another incredibly moving graphic novel coming of age memoir, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.

  3. I agree, Monica, I thought of Fun Home, too, but I think this one can reach a little younger audience.–Cindy

  4. Great book. Really shows off what the graphic novel is capable of.

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