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Stitches

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  14,396 ratings  ·  2,126 reviews
One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had cancer and was expected to die.

In Stitches, Small, the award-winning children’s illustrator and author, re-crea
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Hardcover, 329 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Shira Adults or older teens. I can't imagine younger teens enjoying it, unless you know really somber, mature ones.
Watchmen by Alan MooreThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Best Graphic Novels
59th out of 2,005 books — 4,525 voters
Maus, I by Art SpiegelmanPersepolis by Marjane SatrapiFun Home by Alison BechdelStitches by David SmallEpileptic by David B.
best memoir graphic novels
4th out of 123 books — 232 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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 ~Geektastic~
If it were up to me, all biographies and memoirs would be written in graphic novel form. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, The Complete Maus, The Complete Persepolis, Blankets ; these are all near-perfect expressions of personal and familial experience. The power of imagery saves the subject matter from being bogged down by the excessively wordy, self-justifying tendencies of some, and the oblique, pseudo-poetic drivel of others. The best graphic novel memoirs and biographies seem to combat these t ...more
Raeleen Lemay
*4.5*

WOW. This was a very quick read, but a very interesting one!

The art was all in black and white, and looked like it was painted in watercolor paint, which was super cool! The transitions were incredible, and the ending of the book blew me away. Highly recommend.
Lindsey Rey
This is officially my favorite graphic memoir! Loved it so much!
Oriana
book #6 for Jugs & Capes!!

Holy motherfuck, this book is intense. It's a real fast read, despite its intimidating heft. And it's just terribly devastating—powerful and aching and sparse and horribly beautiful, and oh also did I mention that it's terribly devastating?

I mean, not devastating in an irredeemable way, like those maudlin mass-market bestsellers where everyone dies slowly & tragically while staring meaningfully into their loved ones' eyes and gently speaking words of unbearabl
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Jackie "the Librarian"
Back in the 50's, people did NOT talk about issues. Everything was internalized - unhappiness, anger, resentment were all swallowed. When illustrator David Small was a boy, he felt all those repressed feelings, even though they weren't spoken. His mother's little cough, his father's absences, all spoke volumes.

He internalized his own feelings, of not feeling loved or wanted, but they manifested physically as asthma and sinus troubles, exacerbated by the smoke from the nearby factories, and his o
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MJ Nicholls
Understated and elegiac inkery. Strictly from the misery memoir staple, grainy and grotty, but not gratuitous. Cinematic panels opening up wistful wounds and profound childhood emptiness. The graphic novel is almost alone among contemporary art/fiction in capturing that peculiar form of youthful Weltschmerz.
Monica!
I always feel a little nervous about reading and reviewing memoirs. There’s only so much, after all, that you can suggest to the author. It’s hard to be all, "Yeah, I would have appreciated more excitement in [insert portion of life]. Could you have made something up? Just for the sake of your readers?" Because then, we get into books like Lying, and poor Monica gets all sorts of migraines trying to figure out when the author is full of it, and... yes. It’s risky. However! There was no need for ...more
Lee
Such strange compressions of time: 24 years of the most significant moments in the author's life laid out in comparatively spare, sane, elegant, mature, b&w drawings (compared to the work of many other leading graphic artists) over 329 pages that surely took years to complete, read in an "enjoyable" hour, immersed in that sort of cinematic bookishness that comes from turning pages so much more quickly than those covered in text. A great passage of pages where the kid-aged author dives throug ...more
Maggie Stiefvater
Jul 19, 2009 Maggie Stiefvater rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people new to graphic novels
Recommended to Maggie by: Ian from Booklist
Shelves: adult, recommended
I am not going to tell you anything about this book.

I'm sure you're thinking that's an odd way to begin a review, but that's how I went into this book, and it worked for me. I was doing an interview with Booklist last weekend and I asked the interviewer what he thought was the graphic novel of the year so far. Without even having to consider, he said, "STITCHES." My publicist picked an advanced review copy up for me at ALA and I am thrilled that she did. I didn't know anything about it except t
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Melki
Wow! What a heartrending look at children's book writer/illustrator David Small's sad and miserable childhood!

We see him first as a small boy, lying on the floor, happily drawing pictures.
His dad is mostly absent, and his mother, well, let's face it...she's HORRIBLE! Verbally and physically abusive, she's a monster.
But as this graphic novel, done in muted shades of gray suggests, not everything is black and white.
After spending some time with David's grandmother, his mother's mother, we get so
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Suad Shamma
I was highly impressed with this book, way more than I thought I would be. When I bought it, it was on a whim. I had never heard of David Small, I don't know who he is or what he does. I was taken in by the cover, the fact that it was a memoir written in graphic novel style, and with a quick skim through it I knew I liked the artist's style and would enjoy the story.

This isn't a happy story, it's quite dark, and you can't help but think it must be fiction. This can't actually be true. This can'
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Kelly
Woo wee, this memoir had some bite to it, to be sure. Picking this one up, I was not sure if it would consitute as 'creepy' as everyone has said it is. It's worse. Stitches is creepy and affecting. The story of David Small's childhood kept me up at night, with me pondering over him being mentally scarred or not. The pictures are 'simplistic' yet arresting. Check this one out.
Stacy268
Heart breaking.

I read this last night and was left very pensive. Once wakened by my daughter around 1am, Small's story would not leave my brain. Upon reflection I think I will be haunted by this one for a long time.
Newengland
I bought with the intent of putting it in my classroom library, but I don't think I'm brave enough -- at least not for 8th graders. Mon Dieu, David Small's graphic memoir ("graphic" as in cartoon) includes titties and men's "things" and a Jesus talking from his crucifix (as one might expect, he was cross). The coup de grâce, though, comes in the form of a panel showing a neighbor lady getting out of bed with his mother (he stumbled into the bedroom at an inopportune moment -- that is, when he st ...more
Bob Redmond
The story: a boy suffers from the worst kind of neglect, in a truly screwed up family situation. It probably won't spoil the story to say that he loses his voice through an operation (hence the title). It's a memoir.

The background: the author would eventually become a renowned illustrator of children's books.

My notes: the book is goregously illustrated in black inks and watercolors. The prose is spare, and the story minimal. Amist the flood of memoirs published in recent years, this one has to s
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Jennifer
This evocative graphic novel, replete with themes of loss, anger, pain and hope, is bound to resonate with readers in much the same way that
Craig Thompson’s Blankets does. Small’s memoir mirrors the helplessness children and adolescents often feel as pawns in world ruled by adults with their own dysfunctional baggage, and beautifully illustrates the truism that everyone eventually grows up and is rewarded with the chance to develop their own identity separate from the people who raised them. Als
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UConnCo-op
Imogene's Antlers by David Small has always been one of my favorite childrens books so I was eager to read his graphic memoir Stitches, but not prepared for the intensity of it. With drawings and spare words, he relives his troubled childhood with his frighteningly unhappy mother and physician father. After X-Ray treatments from his father, he develops cancer at the age of 14 but no one tells him. He awakes from surgery scarred, mute, and confused about what happened and why. At 16 he leaves hom ...more
Tatiana
This is a very strong graphic novel. No superheroes here, just a very emotional memoir about a child growing up in a deeply dysfunctional family but who manages to overcome the damages that had been inflicted upon him by his relatives. A very, very unhappy family depicted here. And David is not very forgiving either.

I do not recommend reading the plot summary printed on the dust jacket. It gives the entire story away.

If you like Stitches, you will probably like Blankets too.
Mandy
Dear Mom and Dad, Our family's never seemed as normal and happy as after I read this book. Love, Mandy
Agne Jakubauskaite
Oct 09, 2014 Agne Jakubauskaite rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone, really!
Recommended to Agne by: Read and Meet Book Club
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

David Small's "Stitches" is a gloomy and harrowing memoir written as a graphic novel. The story brings us back to the author’s childhood and lets us “in a house where silence reigned and free speech was forbidden.” Although David wasn’t beaten or starved (not too often, anyways), the extreme lack of love and communication from his parents left deep scars, even deeper than a stitched up gash across his throat. And how did he get that gash? Oh, at the age of fourteen he had a surg
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edh
Like his favorite character, Alice, David Small leads the reader through a kaleidoscopic wonderland in his memoir Stitches. But this is no technicolor animation - young David's journey is a painful hell punctuated by emotional and physical estrangement that has obviously had a formative effect on his art. The adults in his life loom over him like leering eyeless zombies as he discovers that nobody's supposed to call his grandmother "crazy," and that the supposedly harmless surgery he needs has t ...more
Bry
Wow. Just wow. I expected this to be good, but good and completely depressing too. Yet, somehow, by the time I finished this book I wasn't depressed in the least. Some parts were sad, don't get me wrong, but overall it was heartbreaking yet completely uplifting. David Small is a man who survived sickness, abuse, social exile, a loveless mother, a guilt ridden father, and the thought that he was going insane.

Also, I don't think I could have enjoyed this book if it were a novel and not a graphic
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Kathleen
Deze was snel uit, maar ik was er toch van aangedaan. Het "laten we niet praten over belangrijke dingen binnen deze familie" stukje kwam me helaas net iets te bekend voor.
Vanessa
I picked this graphic novel up on a whim when I saw it in my local library. I like checking out relatively unheard of and independent graphic novels, and the concept of this illustrated memoir appealed to me.

David Small depicts his childhood and adolescence living in a family where emotions are not shown, anger rules, and he is subjected to various x-rays and doses of radiation by his physician father in an attempt to cure is respiratory problems. Unfortunately this led to his developing cancer,
...more
Steven
Several of his illustrated books were favorites to read to my kids when they were small. This illustrated memoir reveals a childhood so very different from theirs. Raised in a home without love, he is pulled back from the edge of madness by one caring adult. The book is beatifully done and very touching.
Caren
One of my favorite children's librarians suggested I read this, since it is, after all, the work of a noted illustrator of children's books. The book is entirely done with drawings, many with no text. It is amazing what the author manages to convey with these detailed images. His unhappy childhood was marked by a dysfunctional family and by his own surgery for what he later learned was thyroid cancer, which left him with no voice at first and with an ugly scar. This is, however, the story of a s ...more
Beth F.
I’d never read a graphic novel until this month. Now this is the third I’ve completed and frankly, I’m hooked! Like a lot of non-fans of comics I’d been erroneously operating under the assumption that all graphic novels were about superheroes or contained subject matter that I would find boring.

This book is a perfect example of a graphic novel that breaks that mold. It is a memoir and based on the author’s true boyhood experience with going in for what he’d been led to believe was a routine ope
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Mary
Mary Stein
810
I read the book “Stitches” by David Small. “Stitches” is in comic book form (Or graphic novel form for those of you who think that you’re too old to read comics. Which is BS by the by. Everyone loves comics) either way, “Stitches is a memoir that is told through pictures, as I mentioned earlier. Now you may be wondering, why would you name your memoir “Stitches” of all things? I mean, yeah, it’s a cool title and everything, but if I wanted a title to sum up my life it would be “Norm
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Jessica-Robyn
Stitches is a graphic novel I'm going to have to revisit sometime soon. Having read it just days before my BIG move David Small didn't get nearly enough time for me to truly consider this book with any sort of metal capacity. This is the sort of story you have to let stew in your brain for a bit and I look forward to doing just that.

What I can say in the meantime is that this book was difficult to read for me. The genre of graphic novel memoirs is something we see a lot of, but more often than
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Elham
About it being a graphic novel:

As my first graphic novel, I think the bar has been set high already. Although I've always been skeptical towards this genre, after reading it, I'm already fishing for other graphic novels. The comic strip format is reminiscent of film scenes, and being a fan of film had me appreciating the visual sequencing of events, settings, body language, facial expressions, light and shadow.. in addition to the book, as the author says, being influenced by film, made it all t
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USA Geography Cha...: Stitches by David Small 1 3 Dec 29, 2014 01:33AM  
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  • The Eternal Smile: Three Stories
  • The Complete Essex County
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  • Tangles: a story about Alzheimer's, my mother, and me
  • One Hundred Demons
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

David Small is the recipient of the Caldecott Medal, a Christopher Medal, and the E. B. White Award for his picture books, which include Imogene's Antlers, The Gardener, and So, You Want to Be President? He lives in Mendon, Michigan.
More about David Small...
Imogene's Antlers George Washington's Cows Fenwick's Suit Paper John Eulalie and the Hopping Head

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“.... When you have no voice, you don't exist” 15 likes
“The odd thing about recurring dreams is that, no matter how many times you dream the same thing, it always takes you by surprise.” 13 likes
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