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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  24,286 ratings  ·  3,080 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
Hardcover, 329 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,286 ratings  ·  3,080 reviews

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Greta G
"Mama had her little cough...
Once or twice, some quiet sobbing, out of sight...
Or the slamming of kitchen doors.
That was her language.

 photo 1D022A1D-7A43-4C77-B5B9-74FCDA03D990.png

Dad, home from work, went down to the basement and thumped a punching bag.
That was his language.
My brother, Ted, beat on his drum.
And I, too, had learned a way of expressing myself wordlessly...
Getting sick, that was my language.

Stitches is a poignant, sometimes tragicomic memoir of David Small, best known as the author and illustrator of numerous picture
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
My Goodness. Horrendously cruel and unloving parents, a nasty grandma, lies and a shocking surprise lead to a nightmare of a memoir and rather disturbing, but powerful work of graphic art.

STITCHES is aptly named with creepy book cover and illustrations to match dipicting a horror of a family and a sad child turned troubled teen.

"When you have no voice, you don't exist."

Interesting and unusual medical reveal about David's mother at the conclusion.

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
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
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it

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.

Cancer in childhood is devastating enough without also living in a dysfunctional family. Stitches is illustrator David Small’s memoir of surviving these, told in snapshots of formative incidents before and after getting diagnosed. In particular, his mother’s lack of love had a profound effect on him, and he hinted at her personal pain, a pain he didn’t yet know the depth of, co-existing with his own. Stitches is a grim read that left me impressed by the author’s resilience; after leaving his unl ...more
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 unbearably sad an
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
Lindsey Rey
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is officially my favorite graphic memoir! Loved it so much!
Mariah Roze
Nov 19, 2016 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 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.
Sam Quixote
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Maggie Stiefvater
Jul 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mariah Roze
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.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I'm enjoying my TBR Explode project because it's reintroducing me to books I added to my TBR ten years ago. This one was added the day after it came out in September 2009, so I must have been looking at some kind of new releases list.

This is a graphic memoir about the author’s childhood illness and surgery and upbringing. It is DARK. He uses a lot of black and white which makes the entire situation seem bleak (and to be fair, it is,) with depictions of fear and scary and judging faces. David's p
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who can handle quite a bit of pain
I read this graphic memoir in one sitting. David Small’s childhood and family life were horrifying to say the least. Not to sound smug or self-righteous, but it’s parents like these that have me wondering. Honestly, some people should seriously consider whether they’re emotionally and mentally prepared before considering marriage and/or children. At the very least, I wish that they would put some thought into these major decisions. Some people shouldn’t be parents. Although reading this was emot ...more
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.
Jon Nakapalau
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When a young boy looses his voice after an operation we watch as he tries to make himself "heard." ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lee Klein
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 through a ...more
Suad Shamma
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2015, graphic-novels
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'
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
Whoever would've thought I'd be so deeply moved by a graphic memoir? My bibliophile buddy Lindy, that's who! I am grateful for the recommendation, as I'd adopted a rather snooty attitude towards graphic novels, etc. While I don't expect to start reading them all that much more regularly, I certainly get it now that they can convey powerful narratives like this one. Just wonderful! ...more
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Elizabeth Tabler
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Graphic Novels. They Aren’t Books. They have no literary value.”


I have often heard this. Repeatedly. Books like Stitches are the reason that the argument against graphic novels not being literature heavyweights is so brainless. This story is poignant, as well as painful and oh so very real.

David Small is a famous children’s illustrator who took his childhood memories held them, squeezed them, and wrapped them up into a ball and served us this novel. His childhood was not a happy one; “Dad
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Murat G.
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly powerful and poetic scream..

Dont know what to say more..
iko ikovski
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to iko ikovski by: Murat G.

this goddamn comic can rip your stitches. it's so powerful and has a great story-telling. i cant say the same thing for drawings but that doesnt mean it's bad, no, it is as powerful as the story but just not my cuppa. the style of drawings fit very well with the atmosphere of the story.



Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Oh boy! Yesterday in picking up some library material- I found this graphic book on the librarian's "special" shelf. I usually take one of those without reading a word about every other month. They stick oversize rec's (cards) in them written by the named librarian and why they liked it. This one was a graphic and I have not read many- so in the book bag it went. The cover was a orange/peach too and the adults looked like Dr. Seuss people, although from a Stephen King village. So what could go w ...more
Bob Redmond
Jul 12, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone, really!
Recommended to Agnė 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
Oct 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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Play Book Tag: Stitches - David Small - 4 stars 2 16 Apr 29, 2019 10:07AM  
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Book Review 1 8 Dec 16, 2018 08:32PM  
Mr. Kawel's Class: Anna Milnes 1 5 Dec 16, 2018 06:45PM  
Mrs. Anderson's E...: Tayten Stringer 1 7 Mar 03, 2016 04:46PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Stitches by David Small 1 20 Oct 23, 2015 04:34PM  

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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.

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