Author: David Small
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publication Date: 2009
Number of Pages: 329
Geographical Setting: Detroit
Time Period: 20th Century
Series (If applicable): N/A
Plot Summary: Stitches is David Small’s memoir of his troubled childhood, done to great effect in graphic novel form. From his earliest memories Small recounts the tension and emotional turbulence he felt as he grew up with a disturbed and withholding mother and distant father. Sickly as a child, his radiologist father treated his sinus-related illnesses with countless x-rays, a common practice at the time. As he grew older, a long untreated growth on his neck turned out to be cancer, although his parents withheld this information, and he lost his thyroid and a vocal chord in the surgery that ensued. The emotional and evocative illustrations throughout invoke a dark moodiness to the book, and the lack of color only adds to the bleak tone. Small’s tale is a complicated one, but he finds relief and escape in his art. Compelling and ultimately moving, Stitches speaks volumes with few words.
Subject Headings: Child cancer patients, Family Secrets, Mute boys, Throat cancer, Mother and Son, Father and Son.
Appeal: character driven, compelling, thought-provoking, moody, bleak, disturbing, moving, unique, emotional, well-paced, secretive, tense, unsentimental
3 appeal terms that best describe this book: compelling, moving, and bleak
Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Fun Home—Alison Bechdel: A similarly dark and moody graphic novel memoir of a difficult childhood and finding salvation through art. Bechdel’s story of her relationship with her troubled father is moving, and at times humorous.
A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father—Augusten Burroughs: Another dark memoir, detailing the psychological cruelty of Burroughs’ father, A Wolf at the Table eloquently describes his deeply dysfunctional family and his place in it.
Epileptic—David B.: Unsentimental and compelling, Epileptic is the story of how a boy’s disease affects an entire family, and how it led his brother into cartooning.
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
After Ever After—Jordan Sonnenblick: Encouraged by a third friend, teenagers Jeff and Tad make a pact to help each other overcome their cancer treatments before graduation.
A Family Matter—Will Eisner: A moody graphic novel, A Family Matter finds a group of family members at a birthday celebration, whose conversations reveal troubled pasts, secrets, and contention.
Sharp Objects—Gillian Flynn: An impressively dark novel of twisted family secrets, Munchausen-by-proxy, serial murder, dysfunctional relationships, journalism.