“Stitches” refers to the clumsy sutures on 14-year-old David’s neck after a cancer operation he wasn’t supposed to know was cancer. More subtly, “stitches” could allude to how David’s family members clumsily hold together their outwardly normal but unhappy lives. A psychiatrist tells David a simple truth, freeing him to find his voice in art and later win awards for children’s picture books. In fact, it’s Small’s art that lifts his memoir into the extraordinary.
This is a wonderful graphic novel that tells the author’s story of growing up with distant parents, an abusive grandmother and a bullying older brother. Many of the panels do not have dialogue which helps to show the story through a child’s eyes. This gives us the feeling of what tension and silence in the home can do a child’s well-being and emotional state. The artist creates a beautiful book out of what could have been a bleak and depressing story.