Graphic Memoirs

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I can’t get Stitches out of my mind. I read it yesterday and ached for the boy at its center at every page and find myself thinking about him today.

Stitches is David Small’s moving memoir of growing up as the child of two sad and unloving parents and Small’s ultimate escape to a creative life.

Before reading Stitches, I only knew David Small for his work (much of it with his wife Sarah Stewart) of wonderful picture books like The Library, The Gardener and The Journey.  I was drawn to this memoir because of Small’s picture books, but this not a book for children.  It is raw and disturbing.

It brought to mind another graphic memoir I couldn’t get out of my head for weeks—Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.  Bechdel’s is a very different story—one of a young woman dealing with her own sexual orientation while her father is living a secret life that overshadows hers.   I remember feeling uncomfortable as I read the scenes between father and daughter as if I was hiding in the closet and desperately wanted to sneak out before I heard too much.

As odd as it sounds, I love books that make me feel achey.  There are a few pages in Stitches that made me freeze.  I just didn’t know if I could go on.  But that’s when I love reading the most – when it reminds me of our shared humanity and our shared vulnerabilities.   I would definitely recommend both of these rewarding books, but not as beach or airplane reading.


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