Monday, October 26, 2009

Graphic Novel Monday: Stitches, by David Small


Stitches, by David Small. Published 2009 by W.W. Norton & Co.

Click here to buy Stitches via IndieBound.org. I'm an IndieBound affiliate and receive a portion of the proceeds.

If you're into graphic novels and you haven't yet read David Small's extraordinary Stitches, now nominated for a National Book Award, you really need to.

It's his autobiographical story of his youth, growing up ill and neglected in a deeply dysfunctional family. At age eleven, he develops a lump on his neck which he is told is a sebaceous cyst; when it's removed, three and a half years later, he's left with disfiguring scars and no voice.

Stitches reads and looks like a waking nightmare; David's aren't the only scars in this family, even if they're the only ones you can see. His parents are deeply disturbed and traumatized as well, coming from families with deep mental illness and dysfunction, and his mother has a secret all her own. Towards the end of the book Small tries to make peace with his family; of course there is more to his family than what he chooses to depict here, but given that's all I have, I just wanted to cry for the mind-numbing cruelty this boy endures. The artwork brings the reader into this dreamscape with rough pen and ink sketches colored with grayscale washes; it all feels dreary, dank and hopeless; peoples' faces and bodies are exaggerated and feel overwhelming. The overall effect is to invoke a deep sense of loneliness, isolation and suffocation.

Stitches was nominated in the Young-Adult category for its National Book Award, but this isn't a book for children or younger teens. It's dark, powerful and oftentimes frightening and while it ends with a message of hope and reconciliation, it's tough going to get there. I don't know that I'd even recommend it to a newcomer to graphic novels because although it is addictive, compelling reading, it's also really quite dark but if you're a fan of serious graphic novels Stitches is a must-read.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.

10 comments:

Bart's Bookshelf said...

I've seen this one mentioned a time or two recently, looks like a must read.

avisannschild said...

I definitely want to read this one!

bermudaonion said...

I thought this book was fantastic too. You wonder how someone can survive a childhood like that and turn out "normal".

Vasilly said...

I really want to read this! Great review.

Zibilee said...

I have read another really good review of this book as well and think it looks like a very powerful and absorbing read. It sounds really sad, but also a bit hopeful in the end. I am definitely putting this one on my list, and I am glad to see that Graphic Novel Monday is back! I have missed it!

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I've heard so many positive reviews on this graphic novel. I must put it on hold at the library! Thanks for your review.

An Anonymous Child said...

I really have to wonder why this one ended up in the young adult category. It's disappointing and troubling, but I suspect the only reason it's there and not in the slightly more universally respected nonfiction category is because it's in graphic form...

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

thanks for this. If you can describe Gormenghast as a graphic novel then I have read one before if not then never. However, this sounds interesting.

logankstewart said...

Thanks for the review. It kind of reminds me of Blankets, which I really liked. I'll have to check this out.

justareadingfool said...

I've seen this at the library and thought about picking it up. Maybe, just maybe, now I will. :)