Stitches by David Small
329 pages
W.W. Norton & Company, 2009
Genre: Memoir, graphic novel
Re-readability: Considering that it took me 45 minutes to read, this is one I will definitely pick up again.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by Pete

Stitches is a graphic memoir by David Small that explores (in its brief 329 pages) David’s cold, death-filled youth. It’s bleak, sometimes so much so that I had to remind myself I wasn’t reading a work of fiction.

David’s family is quiet and brooding. His mother’s sadness and anger is a powerful force that fills their home and most of David’s childhood. Though there aren’t many words to a page, Small’s illustrations are powerful, and they capture things that words might not get right. The magic of his storytelling comes from the perfect balance between text and image. He knows exactly when something should be spelled out, and when it should be shown in a character’s expression, or in a tiny detail, or in a series of dark, sparse panels.

There isn’t much to say about this incredible memoir. I read it in one sitting in under an hour, and though the story of David’s life and his family is filled with a sadness that I felt as I read, the feeling didn’t linger. This book is brutal and filled with hard truths, but it didn’t leave me empty (at least not for too long). Small’s honesty and acceptance of his life’s turns is inspiring, and the creation of Stitches must have felt like a massive relief for him.

If you have an hour to go to a library and read this book in a quiet spot, you should. But it’s a book that you’ll want to own and to share with as many people as you can.

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