Book Review: Stitches
Stitches by David Small is a beautiful and heartbreaking graphic memoir. The author uses the story of his bleak childhood, the surgery that took his thyroid and one of his vocal cords as a teenager, and his subsequent recovery from both. Small doesn’t shy away from harsh depictions and this is certainly not a lighthearted or easy-to-read graphic novel, but the story Small tells is powerful and honest. He is especially talented at capturing nuanced human facial expressions, whether he’s showing us a petulant boy scowling in an elevator or a mother who is filled with a toxic mix of shame, sorrow, and ever-abiding rage. The illustrations in Stitches feel haunting and restrained, but they convey a powerful and evocative message. While most of the story is dark and difficult, there are bright spots. I especially enjoyed Small’s warm depiction of his therapist and the benefits and healing that came of their time together.
I initially purchased this to include in my middle school graphic novel collection; after reading, I suggested moving it to our upper school collection, instead. While it may not be a fit for young readers, I will be recommending Stitches with enthusiasm to anyone who enjoys reading memoirs or graphic novels.