Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Stitches by David Small (A Graphic Novel Quick Recap)

Stitches by David Small

Voicelessness is a key theme throughout David Small’s memoir Stitches. David grew up in a household where members did not communicate and with the legacy of a great-grandfather who destroyed his vocal cords when trying to kill himself by drinking Drano. He himself becomes physically mute after having throat surgery for cancer that his parents hide from him and that his doctor father eventually claims responsibility for causing due to over x-raying his own child. David’s childhood experience of this dysfunctional silence is mirrored in his graphic novel, which features many sequences devoid of text. While David was alone then, observing his family’s tragic history without anyone to confide in until he eventually connects with a counselor, Stitches invites readers to stand as his witnesses. As readers, we are able to escape into his fantastical dreams and nightmares, and we are confronted with zoomed in views of his physical stitches, which simultaneously reflect both the trauma that he has endured and his path to healing. I was deeply moved by Small’s memoir. He authentically portrayed his feelings of fear and anger, while sensitively acknowledging the cyclical roots of hurt in his family. This is well encapsulated in the ending dream sequence that reveals his grandmother in an asylum, and his mother “sweeping the path clearing the way for [him] to follow.” He ends simply with: “I didn’t.” Breaking his family’s pattern, Small has reclaimed his voice through the telling of this story, and his strength may hopefully inspire others that it is possible to also forge their own, healthier paths in life.

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