Comments for Stitches
David Small is a children's book illustrator. His memoir, Stitches, is presented as a graphic novel. It covers his traumatic childhood, surgery and recovery.
David introduces his family at the dinner table, explaining their silent way of communicating with each other. For his mother, it was slamming the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. For his brother, it was beating the drums. For David, it was getting sick.
With showing, rather than telling, Small goes back in time to his infancy, a time when he had respiratory problems. His radiologist father gave young David numerous treatments, as I guess was one of the acceptable treatments of the time.
Later, of course, he had to have an operation for a growth in his neck. That by itself would be traumatic enough, except that he lived in a family who always bickered about money and would rather spent the money they had on new cars, furniture and jewelry. Much of that spending by the father was to placate the increasingly unhappy mother.
David draws his mother perpetually angry. She is always scowling down her hawklike nose. If his mother is difficult, his grandmother is worse. But all of this comes out first through the artwork and the mostly silent, passive aggressiveness of the family dynamics. Small winds up the tension from the very first page and does't let any of it go until nearly the end, making for a compelling, sometimes horrifying, read.
The book ends with an explanation of the events of the author's life and a summary of what happened after what's depicted in the book.
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