Title: Stitches: A Memoir.
Writer(s): David Small.
Illustrator(s): David Small.
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart.
Release Date: September 14th 2010 (first published September 8th 2009).
Genre(s): Comics, Non-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
It doesn’t take much for a child to dive deep into the dark recesses of his imagination looking for answers, and at other times, looking for refuge. Too young to understand their surrounding, too young to fix everyone’s problems and too young to think about anything but their own place in the world, it’s during those early teenage years that they are at their most vulnerable and life has no mercy for anyone who finds themselves between a rock and a hard place. How exactly do you cope with the issues you face and seek the mental peace that everyone struggles to attain when the resources aren’t within arm’s reach? That’s where your mind tells you that it’s okay to jump into the rabbit’s hole and enjoy the freedom that it allows you to explore. But what about the freedom within the real world to know what you should know, to do what you want to do, and to say what you want to say?
Stitches: A Memoir is a graphic memoir of the author David Small. Unequivocally a frightening, stunning and poignant story that brings readers back to his disheartening childhood, David Small gives us a glimpse into how much his voice was a crucial element to his struggles in life, but also the source of inspiration to what he turned out to be today. Bringing us back to Detroit in the 1950s, the story follows fourteen year old David Small and the heavy atmosphere that accompanies the tension within his family, as his mother is emotionally withdrawn, and his father is shoulder-deep into his work as a radiologist. If anything, the household was nothing but inadequate for a child to find any opportunity to fully blossom.
Drawing upon his iconic artwork style, David Small delivers a grayscale dialogue-light story where his childhood-self ironically has a voice much more powerful than the one he was stripped away from as a teenager. The sketches he uses to represent key actors from his life easily convey their personality at the mere sight of them, but their actions speak louder than words, and that’s what David Small maximizes to bravely share what was probably one of the toughest periods of his life. By playing upon the silence that he was inflicted through a revelation that forced everyone to acknowledge his new reality, David Small seemed so small that he walked around feeling nonexistent as he became a voiceless child.
While he had to live through these dark times regardless of what others would have wished for him, the process he went through remains one that forced him to understand things that are much bigger than him, much bigger than life itself. What is truly mesmerizing in this unforgettable story is that it doesn’t only convey David Small’s struggles during that era, it also gives us an exhaustive view of every other person who was present in his life to the point where it became clear that everyone had their own personal struggles, struggles that forged them into the person they are, and for some, the person they wanted to be.
Stitches: A Memoir is an uncomfortable and relatively tragic story that highlights a dark time in David Small’s life. It not only brings us to reflect on the horrors that pervaded his childhood, but also on issues related to medicine, to identity, but most importantly, to the gift that is our voice.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!