Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Stitches (copy)

Young David grew up in a quiet family who kept their emotions below the surface only to boil-up around inanimate objects. For instance, his father had a punching bag in the basement and every day after work he would pound into an unknown face. His mother took her frustrations out in the kitchen. The slamming of cupboards, clanging of pots and pans, and the harsh sounds of drowning utensils and plates while being thrown into water was a daily occurrence. Even his brother kept the household beat with his drum set.

David opted for a noiseless way to act out. At the age of six he became mysteriously sick. His father was a radiologist at a major hospital in Detroit and often David was x-rayed as treatment. His father later claimed that it was standard practice for anyone born with breathing difficulties such as asthma or sinus conditions. Readers will see otherwise as David becomes a human guinea pig.

By age eleven, David has a slight growth on his neck. It is his mother's best friend, Mrs. Dillon, who discovers the small lump. In front of David, Mrs. Dillon makes his mother promise to see a doctor but once she leaves his mother declares, "Doctors cost money and money is something that is in short supply in this house!"

Three and a half years later, David's tumor is too large to ignore and he requires surgery. It is only after he is recovering at home from two surgeries that remove his thyroid gland and one side of his vocal cords that David learns why. A letter, locked in a desk and written by his mother, explains his cancer and how the family refuses to tell "the boy" about it.

David Small's true story, Stitches: A Memoir, is a gothic tale of love denied. He was definitely a product of the times when children were seen but not heard. It was the psychologist that broke the news, "Your mother doesn't love you."

Illustrated in graphic format, older readers will recognize The New Yorker style comics, but this book is for young adults. It appeals to anyone reading graphic novels for it is loyal to the grotesqueness of the genre. It's the heartbreaking story that appeals to all.

I leave you with a quote from the book jacket. "A silent movie masquerading as a book, Stitches renders a broken world suddenly seamless and beautiful again." It is one of those books that live within you long after the last page is turned.

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