15 October 2014
Stitches by David Small
While - I am positive - all people react strongly to any mistreatment of children, I also believe that parents are more affected, more horrified, and more likely to have bad dreams. In Stitches, the main character, David, lives a nightmarish life in the midst of a neglectful and abusive family. Then at 14, he enters the hospital for a minor surgery and leaves missing his thyroid and his vocal cords. And, of course, he returns to a home life of neglect and abuse until finally escaping and finding his new voice in art.
Bad enough. Then I realize it is a graphic memoir aka totally not fiction - yeah, sometimes it takes me awhile - and my heart practically stops. I have a very strong desire to beat the living crap out of the adults in David's life. Clearly these adults are suffering from their own issues - secrecy, shame, isolation, and some actual crazy - but yeah, I want them punished.
Okay, enough rant, back to the book. In a lovely choice, Small mirrors form and content, using minimal words to relate a story about loss of voice (both literal and figurative). The images really shine here, telling as much of the story, if not more, than the actual text. The use of black and white, sketch-type images fits perfectly, highlighting the bleakness of the story and mirroring the stark portrayal of a complex life.
My only issue was a slight lack of clarity from time to time with the images. I wasn't sure exactly what was happening every now and again, sometimes due to the blending of David's reality and David's imagination and sometimes because the simplicity of the images didn't differentiate people enough for me. Then again, I really think the problem here is that I plowed through this in 20 minutes.
Random thought: I love the rabbit therapist.
I know I'm totally late to the "Stitches is Awesome" party, like 4 or 5 years behind the game I guess, but hey, better late than never, right?