Stitches (book)

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Stitches: A Memoir
Cover to the English-language hardcover edition of Stitches
AuthorDavid Small
IllustratorDavid Small
Cover artistDavid Small
GenreGraphic novel, memoir
PublisherW. W. Norton
Publication date
September 8, 2009
Pages336 pp.

Stitches: A Memoir is a graphic memoir written and illustrated by David Small. It tells the story of Small's journey from sickly child to cancer patient, to the troubled teen who made a risky decision to run away from home at sixteen—with nothing more than the dream of becoming an artist.


The book is set in Detroit, Michigan, where Small spent his childhood. Small's family—on the surface a model of 1950's-style middle class contentment and success—was a tinderbox of closeted feelings and mental repression. As a young boy Small was plagued with reoccurring respiratory problems. His father was a radiologist who, following the practice of the day, through x-rays and radiation therapy exposed his son to massive doses of radiation. While still at a young age, a growth began to form on Small's neck. Years after the diagnosis, Small awoke from this supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute—one of his vocal cords had been removed along with the growth. He was fourteen, and had not been told that the radiation had given him cancer and was expected to die. From there things began to stack up as his parents' hidden distress and anger started to seep through in fits of sadness and rage directed towards him. When the world became too much for the extremely talented Small to handle he would escape into his own world of sketches and drawings.


Stitches was reviewed by the New York Times[1] and the Los Angeles Times.[2] It was a #1 New York Times Best Seller,[3] and was named one of the ten best books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly and[4][5] It was also a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.[6] Stitches was a 2010 Alex Awards recipient.

Stitches has been translated into seven different languages and published in nine different countries.


  1. ^ Konigsberg, Eric. Finding a Voice in a Graphic Memoir. The New York Times, September 6, 2009.
  2. ^ Woods, Paula L. Book Review: 'Stitches: A Memoir' by David Small. Los Angeles Times, September 13, 2009.
  3. ^ Gustines, George Gene. Graphic Books Best Seller List. The New York Times, September 18, 2009.
  4. ^ Best Books of 2009. Publishers Weekly, November 2, 2009.
  5. ^ Best Books of 2009 - Editors' Picks: Top 100 Books.
  6. ^ National Book Awards - 2009.

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