A Memoir

Graphic Novel - 2009
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The prize-winning children's author depicts a childhood fromhell in this searing yet redemptive graphic memoir.

One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operationto discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. Avocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like abloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that hehad throat cancer and was expected to die. Small, a prize-winningchildren's author, re-creates a life story that might have beenimagined by Kafka. Readers will be riveted by his journey fromspeechless victim, subjected to X-rays by his radiologist fatherand scolded by his withholding and tormented mother, to hisdecision to flee his home at sixteen with nothing more than dreamsof becoming an artist. Recalling Running with Scissors withits ability to evoke the trauma of a childhood lost, Stitches will transform adolescent and adult readers alikewith its deeply liberating vision.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780393068573
Branch Call Number: GRAPHIC BIO SMALL D. Small
Characteristics: 329 p. :,chiefly ill. ;,24 cm.


From Library Staff

List - Empathy for Teens
JCLBeckyC Dec 21, 2016

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 throat cancer and was expected to... Read More »

The childhood memoir of a beloved author who, at the age of fourteen, was turned mute from throat cancer surgery.

List - My Ideal Bookshelf
JCLHelenH Jan 09, 2014

So much is said in what's not said, and the pictures here are worth 1000 words. Very powerful.

JCLBethanyT Apr 05, 2013

David Small demonstrates the power of graphic fiction in this meditation on family, illness and voicelessness. Readers who enjoy Alison Bechdel's graphic fiction exploring familial dysfunction will love this National Book Award Finalist.

"Stitches" refers to the clumsy sutures on 14-year-old David's neck after a cancer operation he wasn't supposed to know was cancer-an operation that renders him mute for a long time. More subtly, "stitches" could allude to how David's family members clumsily hold together thei... Read More »

From the critics

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Aug 16, 2019

This gripping memoir was moving from start to finish. The novel follows the difficult life of a boy who is abused and bullied as a child, only to find out he has cancer, which leads to a procedure with lifelong consequences. The artwork is sombre and painful and provides insight into the mind of the main character. Despite how dark this book is, I enjoyed the narrative and I think this is one of the best written graphic novels I have ever read--the combination of illustrations and text conveyed powerful emotions. I recommend this book to teenagers and adults.

Aug 07, 2019

A graphic novel telling the story of a boy coming of age and facing unusual hardships along the way, whether it be battling cancer or feeling neglected in his family. This book is a perfect example of how pictures are worth a thousand words because while the text is scarce, the plot still flows.

Jun 04, 2019

I haven't read many graphic novels, but I felt as though a story with so many heavy themes wouldn't hold up well under comic-style art. Boy, was I wrong. The art holds much of the space for the emotions and personalities within the characters, and it was very refreshing to receive a memoir in such a different style.

A quick read, it couldn't have taken me more than an hour. This book made me re-evaluate my own parenting tactics and opened my eyes to the damage an emotionally silent home can do to a child, mentally, and in this case even physically. I will definitely read this again.

ArapahoeKati Sep 13, 2017

I was equally horrified and fascinated by this memoir. Dysfunctional family plus crazy medical stuff made this a memoir I read in a single evening.

ArapahoeTina Jul 31, 2017

A quirky and dark tale of family secrets and dysfunction perfectly suited to the graphic novel format.

TechLibrarian Jun 24, 2017

Looking for a quick read? Or want to try a graphic novel? Stitches is a memoir told in graphic form. Dramatic illustrations give weight to the author's experience, coming of age, fighting cancer, and growing up with two emotionally disconnected parents. Like Are You My Mother and Rosalie Lightning, it shows that graphic novels are an excellent format for exploring psychologically heavy subject matter.

Sep 29, 2016

In his autobiographical graphic novel Stitches, award-winning illustrator David Small reveals his childhood through drawings. From his own serious medical ordeals beginning at the age of eleven, physical and emotional abuse suffered at the hands of his mother and grandmother, and mere survival in a household in which not only is no one happy, but no one is even remotely concerned for his well-being, Small depicts events in a sad, brutally realistic form.

This tragic story of childhood just about broke my heart, and I was relieved to learn that this resilient author ultimately grew up well-adjusted and successful in relationships, career and life (I'm not certain I would have). There is something about cheerless childhoods that is particularly heart-rending, and I was most moved by the portrayal of his cold, resentful mother -- so much that I am more conscious and fearful of instances in which my own mood affects how I interact with my own child, and what an indelible mark it can leave.

Radharc Aug 13, 2016

This book is a brutally honest memoir of David Small growing up in a definitive dysfunctional family. It's not a happy story by any means, but there is plenty within that will stick with the reader long after the final page has been turned.

Mar 02, 2016

An amazing, honest, sad, touching book. I'm not a big fan of graphic novels, but I am so glad I read this one.

Aug 22, 2015

My first graphic novel. Are they all this sad and awesome? What a powerful way to present the memoir of this talented artist. If you like memoirs, medicine and/or depressing stories about very sad childhoods, invest some time in this book. I was so impressed with the format that I doubt I will read another graphic novel and risk shattering the allure.

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Aug 16, 2019

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