02 November 2009
I don't have much to say about David Small's graphic novel memoir, Stitches.*
Small, an artist and illustrator,** did not, by all conceivable standards, have a happy childhood. His mother and father had an unhappy marriage; his mother had all kinds of issues of her own (including health issues: she was born with her heart on the opposite side of her chest, and personal problems: Small describes "her furious, silent withdrawals" that "could last for days, even weeks at a time"); and he suffered from multiple illnesses, including a sinus condition, which his father, a radiologist, treated himself, with (you got it) radiation. The end result of that? At the age of 11, Small developed a cyst on his neck, which wasn't removed until three and a half years later, and which of course was cancerous.
That's right: his dad gave him cancer.
Why don't I have much to say? Well, other than saying that you should read this book (which I am indeed saying), I just don't WANT to talk about it. There are a few topics I just don't like to explore. Kids suffering is one of them. Health problems of any kind and the scariness of various health procedures is another. And the graphic novel format of this story? Not making it any easier to take, really. Not that I think it should be easy to take. But for some reason I just never have a lot to say about graphic novels of the nonfiction type. I always find them interesting; they just never stand out as my most memorable reads, even when they are very memorable. Maybe the pictures make them too REAL, and not enough like books? I don't know. Evidently I'm just too much of a text girl, and that's that.***
*I know, it doesn't happen very often, so try not to fall over in shock.
**He often collaborates with his wife, children's author Sarah Stewart, as he did on the wonderful picture book The Library.
***Goodness, evidently I had more to say than I thought about this one.