Monday, December 7, 2009

Stitches by David Small

Ahhhhhhh!!! If he could scream, he would, but he can’t. Fourteen-year old David Small is practically unable to speak. He has awakened from what was supposed to be a routine follow-up surgery without a voice. What is even weirder is the way that everyone around him is acting. Every since the day he arrived home from the hospital, his parents have begun acting secretive. What are they hiding and why?

David Small lives with his parents and older brother. Their family is similar to the typical non-functioning family. His great grandfather tried to kill himself by drinking poison, which instead, ironically, damaged his vocal cords and caused him to be mute. His grandmother is in insane asylum for trying to kill her boyfriend by setting their house on fire. Then there’s his immediate family. His father, Edward, is a doctor who spends as much time as possible away from home, avoiding his wife and family. His absence angers David’s mother so much that she is constantly slamming doors and cabinets throughout the house. David’s mother, Betty, is bitter and stingy, replacing her problems with materialistic possessions.

David’s health problems began when he was a child. He had problems with his sinus and digestive systems. Since he was a doctor, it was not uncommon for Edward to attempt to remedy David’s sinus problems by giving him a series of countless x-rays. When David was eleven, his parents notice that he appears to have a bulging skin protruding from his neck. A trip to a specialist, one of Edward’s friends, confirms that David has cyst that needs to be removed. Betty is infuriated when she finds out that her son has a cyst that needs to be surgically removed. But her fury is not because doctors will be poking and prodding around inside her little boy; it’s because of how much money the surgery will cause. Betty decides that the surgery is unaffordable and can be put off until next year; she then goes on a shopping spree.

David is home from the hospital, recovering from his surgery. No one can hear David when he tries to speak, not because he barely has a voice, but because this is the way that it has always been. David has always been invisible to his parents and everyone else. He submerges and loses himself in his drawings, escaping into his dreams. No one has told David that the lump in his neck is cancer; he just stumbles upon a letter written by his mother to his grandmother and finds out on his own. David’s anger causes him to rebel. Can he be saved from his destructive and rebellious behavior? Will he learn to forgive his father for all of the x-rays that exposed him to the disease? What will become of David Small?

A picture really is worth a thousand words. If you have never read graphic literature before then you are in for a surprise and a well-awaited treat. David Small quickly moves you through this movie-like novel filled with vivid pictures. What is not expressed through words is shown in pictures. For those who think that picture books are just for children, think again. The graphics tell the story better than the few words used throughout the novel. Small captures expressions and actions that show emotions indescribable by words. Flipping through the pages of this novel was like a breath of fresh air


Heather Hoffman said...

Wow! This book sounds really interesting! At first when I was reading your review, I thought it was a "regular" novel... but when I got to the portion where you mentioned the images, I was even more intrigued! I think that using images to deal with such serious issues can be very helpful in assisting teens understand those difficult situations! I can't wait to read this!

Lisa Burnham said...

There are several students that have health issues that they do not feel comfortable speaking of or sharing with others. Then there are times when they use their health problems to get attention from others. Because David has always seemed invisible to his parents, I can understand his rebellious ways.