Stitches is a beautifully crafted graphic novel by award winning writer and illustrator David Small. The memoir chronicles Smalls’ life with chronic illness, focusing on his experience as a child and adolescent with cancer in the setting of an abusive upbringing. We learn through the eyes of a child what being a patient is like, and how, despite all odds Small was able to use art as a way to make a normal life for himself. 


Small’s elegant and strong use of dynamic contours draws in the reader encouraging them to admire the rich characters and the intricate scenes he creates. His panels are akin to a Hollywood cinematographer, transporting the reader to 1950’s Detroit.  He is able to convey light and dark, shadow and contour in the same way that the impressionists would paint landscapes. Small is a master storyteller. His story taps into a few overarching themes, including the cold sterile environment patients are subjected to when dealing with scary, life threatening illness. He also explores the dynamics of an abusive family who in true 1950’s Midwestern stoicism, isolated him emotionally. Small is able to capture these poignantly complex issues in simple panels that speak volumes, elevating the graphic novel into  a modern American masterpiece.


Read another annotation of Stitches by Felice Aull 


W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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