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Stitches: A Memoir

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  18,122 Ratings  ·  2,480 Reviews
A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Best Book of the Year
An Top Ten Best Book of 2009
A Washington Post Book World’s Ten Best Book of the Year
A California Literary Review Best Book of 2009
An L.A. Times Top 25 Non-Fiction Book of 2009
An NPR Best Book of the Year, Best Memoir

With this stunning graphic memoir, David Small takes readers on an unforgettable journey into the
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by McClelland & Stewart (first published September 8th 2009)
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Shira Adults or older teens. I can't imagine younger teens enjoying it, unless you know really somber, mature ones.

Community Reviews

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Jan Philipzig
Not sure how David Small's Stitches passed me by when originally published back in 2009 - I guess there are just too many fascinating comics coming out these days for me to keep up. Luckily, a few days ago I came across the title in a GR list of comic-book memoirs and finally ordered it from the library: what a revelation! Told in a sparse and subtle yet fluid and emotionally charged style, Small's coming-of-age memoir is as devastating as it is cathartic - the kind of book that stays with you l ...more
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
Jan 08, 2015 Raeleen Lemay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphicomanga

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!
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
Nov 19, 2016 Mariah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an interesting graphic novel. There weren't many words, so I got through it very fast! I enjoyed his picture la and the fact that this was a memoir! He had a very hard life!!

However, I struggled with the transitions between fantasy and his dreams and reality and the true story. This left me, at many times, confused and that is why I only gave the book 3 stars.
Mar 08, 2017 Mariah rated it liked it
This book was an interesting graphic novel. There weren't many words, so I got through it very fast! I enjoyed his picture a lot and the fact that this was a memoir! He had a very hard life!!

However, I struggled with the transitions between fantasy and his dreams and reality and the true story. This left me, at many times, confused and that is why I only gave the book 3 stars.
Aug 28, 2013 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

David Small’s graphic novel Stitches is unlike any graphic novel book I have ever read. There are no zombies, no superheroes and no arcane or occult subjects at all, and yet my jaw dropped more than once.

It took me about an hour to get to the end and it was riveting. This reminds me of what a storyboard for an Augusten Burroughs film might look like. Very much worth the very minimal investment in time to experience.

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
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.
Maggie Stiefvater
Jul 19, 2009 Maggie Stiefvater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sam Quixote
Jul 31, 2011 Sam Quixote rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Small's childhood wasn't a happy one. His mother was cold, emotionless, and brutal toward him. His father was distant and barely spoke to him. His brother was around but just barely. Nobody spoke to one another. Then we find out about their tormented inner lives. His mother was a closet homosexual while his father was numbed by the knowledge that he had given David cancer through x-rays. His grandmother was an insane person who tried to murder her husband by burning the house down and his ...more
Jun 07, 2010 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Suad Shamma
May 08, 2015 Suad Shamma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2015
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'
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.
Oct 31, 2009 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 07, 2009 Stacy268 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 22, 2014 Agne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, really!
Recommended to Agne by: Read and Meet Book Club

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
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,
Bob Redmond
Jul 12, 2009 Bob Redmond rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphica
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
Oct 31, 2009 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 18, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
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
Jun 02, 2009 UConnCo-op rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novel
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
David Small tells the story of his childhood and adolescence in a repressive home. Sickly, he is subjected by his physician father to many x-rays, which causes further problems, from which he is shielded. As an only child, David is isolated, without friends, and naturally becomes embittered. I found the book and the monochromatic graphic style kind of depressing.

Dear Mom and Dad, Our family's never seemed as normal and happy as after I read this book. Love, Mandy
Sep 14, 2009 edh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 29, 2016 emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
again, it feels wrong to put a star rating on this!! i don't like them anymore!!!

the art in this was really nice--the panels moved you through the narrative as a camera in a film would. everything was very quiet and soft, which makes sense with a narrator who was without speech for a portion of his life. i felt that it lacked a certain amount of depth and emotional connection. it was very surface level--i suppose some of the art stood as metaphors that could definitely be read as the more intr
Well, that was emotionally exhausting.

Small tells the story of his childhood in sparse black and white illustrations that make horrifying events seem even more so, which is the point. The drawings of the adults in his life make them seem like monsters, physically and emotionally. Trauma drips off these pages, but it's a fast read, maybe only because the need for there to be some sort of happy ending is so obvious. The whole thing is so well put together, crafted not with love (because that impli
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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...

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“.... When you have no voice, you don't exist” 18 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.” 15 likes
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