Chris Maynard's Reviews > Stitches

Stitches by David Small
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Student Name: Chris Maynard

Purpose: Graphic Novel (Wide Reading Project)

Genre: Autobiography

Format: Graphic Novel

Grades: Middle School - YA and above

Subject Matter/Themes: See the bookshelves above.

School Use: I would not teach this book in the classroom, though I would have it somewhere in the classroom, probably somewhere all students would be unable to access it. This is such a sad, disturbing story that it may be very difficult for some students to deal with. With that said, I could also see it being very relevant and intriguing to other students, perhaps those living in difficult family situations. I would be very selective in regards to what students (at least in middle school) get to see this book. Even for an adult, this is a disturbing read.

Review: If there is one scene in the autobiographical graphic novel Stitches that encompasses its disturbing nature (and this is a story that includes a father who gives his boy cancer, a mother who hates her children, and a grandmother who burns down her home, resulting in the death of her husband and residence in an insane asylum), it's when a young David Small is at the hospital waiting for his Dad to leave work. Running around the hospital, Small sneaks into a room where he sees a fetus in formaldehyde. As he stares at the fetus, the creature opens its eyes, lifts itself out of the substance (seemingly growing in stature) and chases Small down the hospital hallway. Clearly a delusion from the fragile boy, this scene is something that you would not want to dream about. Nor is this story of abuse and lack of love that Small dealt with as a child something that you would want to have experienced growing up. Never again will I think of the word "stiches" in the same light, and thanks to Small's haunting pencil illustrations (including a cover that reminds me of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), I now have the frightening visuals to go along with this demented, new meaning.

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