Stitches by David Small

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Stitches by David Small Stitches is a graphical memoir by David Small, spanning mainly his childhood and teen years. Rather than a full-blown memoir, this book especially focuses on his relationship with his parents and the consequences of many of their actions. David's mother was extremely moody. Her moods could last days or weeks and no one really knew what was bothering her and she never bothered to talk about it either. David's father was a doctor. When David was born with sinus and digestive problems, his father himself prescribed medicines, gave him shots, cranked his neck and took tons of X-rays. This was a very dysfunctional family.

Being a huge book in size, I assumed it would take me a while to get through it. On the contrary, it was a breezy read, but no less intense for that. I love it that this is a book of little words and more pictures. There are dialogues but they are used only where necessary. David Small lets his pictures do the talking and they certainly do it well!
David's mom's moods
David's mom was obsessed with saving money, so much so that when there are the beginnings of a lump on David's neck, she doesn't rush to get him treatment. Instead she chides him about it insisting that they don't have the money for it. She gets him a preliminary diagnosis, and even when his dad is suddenly the recepient of a huge amount of money, both his parents hurry off to do some shopping. There's no way I can explain that sudden feeling of sadness I got when I saw that even when they do have the means, it is spent on trivial pursuits and not on the health of their son.

David wants an escape David's anger at his parents is well-justified. But in the afterword, he mentions that there's a lot more he learned about his mother since her death. I still wouldn't get her off the hook, but I'm sure many of her actions could be understood better for reasons David does not reveal. As for his father, you get the feeling that he is just a presence in David's life. He doesn't know much about what's happening with him, most of what he knows are through his mother.

There are patches in this book when I didn't get quite as invested in David's story. Sometimes, I wasn't sure where the story was heading, since the cliffhanger comes well after two-thirds of the book. However, I'm sure my opinion will change after I reread this book, which I hope to do soon. There are many dimensions to this book, and to fully appreciate it, a reread is certainly in order. I would however be lying if I said that I wasn't moved. It was a very poignant read and bristling with righteous anger. For a long time, David kept quiet. He didn't fight or argue with his parents, but you could always sense the inevitable boiling point. But what brings about that eventuality is something very shocking - something David had to find out the really hard way.


I borrowed this book from the library.


9 comments:

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

I found this book fascinating! It's amazing that some kids turn out as well as they do when you consider their parents and upbringing.

Vasilly said...

I agree that there are parts of this book that I couldn't become invested in either. I do think this book is fascinating though. When I learned about some of the secrets that David's mother and grandmother had I understood the family just a little bit better. Have you seen the book trailer of Stitches? It really captured the essence of this book to me.

Athira / Aths said...

I agree! I was surprised that I finished it in 30-45 minutes. I was thinking of Blankets when I read this one.

Athira / Aths said...

You should! I think you will enjoy it. There's just so much emotion flowing out of it!

Athira / Aths said...

I was wondering the same thing! Many would just content themselves blaming their parents. David Small actually moved on!

Athira / Aths said...

I think you will enjoy it, Danielle! There is just so much powerful emotion in here and it's so compelling!

Athira / Aths said...

I haven't seen the trailer - I need to check it out! I was pretty saddened by the grandmother. She clearly had a problem, and no one chose to look at it. I admit things used to be like that at one point, but it was still so sad.

Jmutford said...

I love the picture where he climbs into the drawing. The style reminds me somewhat of Berkeley Breathed's artwork.

Athira / Aths said...

That is one of my favorite pictures in this book too! It really speaks volumes about wanting to escape the real world.