Stitches by David Small: A Book Review

Bookworm wants to study a unit on Detroit, so I checked this book out as it is set in Detroit.  I was able to read the book quickly and discerned that it’s not appropriate for Bookworm, who is only 13.  However, if he were four or five years older, I would let him read this book.

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Stitches: A Memoir by David Small is a heart-breaking graphic novel.  David, a sensitive, bright child, is born into a family where everyone is angry.  His mother is angry and sullen much of the time, and the reader finds out later that she has likely been abused by her own mother, who struggles with mental illness.  She also has a deep secret that David finds out in his late teen years.

His father is frequently absent.  He’s a radiologist in the 1940s and 1950s.  David has asthma, and David’s father treats the condition himself–with round after round after round of x-rays, which was the designated treatment back then, according to David’s father.

His older brother passes his time downstairs angrily beating away at the drums.

By age 11, David has a growth on his neck, but his father’s doctor friend says it’s just a cyst.  Due to tight finances (his parents say, but they also go on a spending spree buying clothes and new furniture), his parents wait for David to have surgery until he is 14.  What he has is much more than a cyst.  Though his parents never tell him, he discovers that he actually had cancer, and one of his vocal cords as well as his thyroid had to be removed.

David’s world shatters after his surgery, and he struggles mightily to make his way in the world.

This story is poignant and heart-breaking.  The graphics only help to accentuate the mood of the story.  Because of the graphics, this book is a quick read.  I read the entire 300+ pages in about 90 minutes, if that.  Still, I highly recommend this memoir, made even more interesting because of its delivery format.

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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