Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: Stitches

I wouldn't have selected this myself, but it was a book club pick (I think they picked it to break things up and try a graphic novel for a change). While well-done, I found it to be terribly depressing. The childhood this author describes and illustrates is traumatic and shocking. I just wanted to rescue him from all the junk in his life. What a horrible way to grow up.

David Small was born with respiratory problems and his physician father did what he thought was best, taking endless x-rays. At age 11, an unusual growth appeared on the side of David's neck. While there was enough money for shopping sprees, the parents elected to wait until he was 14, and the mass was larger, before taking him for surgery to remove it. The growth wasn't a sebaceous cyst as David had been told, but was really cancer and David awoke from the surgery minus his thyroid and part of his vocal chords. It amazed me that this author ended up being such a creative and productive individual, given what he endured as a child. Still, there was little in the way of redemption in the story. Thus, the lingering sadness after finishing it.

The images portraying this tragic tale are haunting, to say the least. The parents and doctors all look rather like a pack of zombies. Even the drawings employ large spaces of black to emphasize the darkness of the tale. If you are a big fan of illustrated books and are looking for a quick-reading memoir, then this might be right up your alley. It is just an alley I could have done without travelling.

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