Stitches: Book Blog

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Book Blog: Stiches,  by David Small

Book: David Small. Stiches, A Memoir. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.


Genre: Autobiography: Non-fiction Graphic Novel


Audience: High School 14-18



In this memoir David recalls the haunting story of his childhood. He vividly describes life-changing moments that he had no control of. His father, mother, and brother all have violent tendencies that define the environment that he is surrounded by. These awful occurrences force David into therapy, where he finally finds some sense of relief from his daily struggles. David grows up and finds the truth about his life and makes discoveries about his family that will never be forgotten. Small represents himself in such a way that the reader never forgets the battles that he has overcome to be a sane and independent adult.



This graphic novel displays a theme of coming of age. The story begins when David is very young. As he grows older he starts realizing many truths about his life. He learns that his mother does not love him and that his father is to blame for the cause of his cancer that resulted in the lost of his vocal cords. Through all of these situations David still maintains his resiliency. He overcomes great odds and turns his experiences into a great piece of art. David did not allow others to stand in his way of becoming a success.


Another very important theme is the need to belong. David’s memoir shows his struggle to find his place in life. He is constantly searching for love and a place to call home. The time he finds that his mother does not love him sends his life spiraling into a very dark demise. He is confused, lost, and does not know how to handle that realization. David lives in a home empty of conversations and love. He fights with the feelings of loss because he does not fell as if he truly belongs with his own family. Stitches, shows how important it is for a young child to fell accepted and needed. Lacking a strong sense of belonging can cause the feelings of loss and having no one to support him physically or emotionally is extremely taxing on a young persons mind and body.



Although David’s story is one of extreme circumstances his feelings of loss and not belonging are feelings that many young people can relate with. No being accepted at school or at home is extremely challenging for a young adult. It is normal for everyone to want to belong to a particular group. David describes many circumstances where he feels let down or betrayed by the people in his life. This is something that should be discussed in class. Having an open discussion about how to deal with these feelings and what is the best way to respond to betrayal could be very beneficial to students in the classroom.


The format of this graphic novel is another aspect that should be addressed. Discussing the effect the combination of text and illustration has on the story can evoke a greater understanding of the stories concepts. The illustrations used by Small tell a story of their own and allude to other important facts in the story that are not addresses through the text. Showing the students certain elements that are used and how they are effective can help them improve their own writing.


Immediately after beginning to read David Small’s, Stitches, I was swept in by the fast pace and the way Small captured the reader’s attention with his detailed illustrations. Small’s character showed us how he was treated without verbalizing his feelings. This technique made me empathize with Small. He was a minor who had no authority over his own body and his parents blatantly abused their power. I was shocked that while at the hospital none of the staff explained the situation and what exactly was going to happen to him. There was a huge breakdown of communication and David paid the price. The ending was what stuck out the most to me. David did not justify his dying grandmother existence by going to see her one last time. He needed her to protect him then, and she did not, he didn’t need her now. That message rang loud and clear in the dramatic ending of the novel.



Stitches, has been called a work of art and a masterpiece. David Small was able to take an ugly childhood with horrific moments and tell the story beautifully. The Graphic Novel Reporter says, “What Small accomplishes in Stitches is riveting. In a field dominated by memoirs of growing up, it stands out.” The way Small conveyed his story makes a separation between comic and graphic drawings and art. David Small sets the bar with the incredible in imagery in his novel. Douglas Wolk, from The Bookforum also comments on his work, “His expressive, impressionistic brushstrokes and ink was shading are well suited to the subtleties of observation and emotion in Stitches.


About kjnorman

English Education Major Psychology Minor I would love to teach high school English. I am 22 years old and commute to WIU from Galesburg, IL.
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