Book Review: Stitches

Stitches by David Small
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir
Literary Awards: Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee (2011),Michigan Notable Book (2010), ALA Alex Award (2010), National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2009),Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Nonfiction & Graphic Novel (2009)
ISBN 0393068579
329 pages
Goodreads, Books Depository

Certain tragedies accompany you as would a favorite toy. Memories that were supposed to be sweet and endearing contort to become garbled versions of nightmares you desperately want to forget. These images entrench themselves deeply into the recesses of your mind, haunting and chiding you for every step. Some of us are lucky enough to have few of such monsters, others are cursed to live with them for the rest of their lives.

Your voice is not meant for talking about issues. Your hands are. Open your mouth only when you really need to, and that’s during happier times or when to shout at your children. Vent your anger at the children who bear no fault over your adult choices and never express a single word of affirmation for them. Let them know that you view life as nothing but a bleak landscape, and their existence adds no color to your already dreary life.

Repress your feelings. Everyone in David’s family does it. Nobody talks about things that sadden, confuse, or anger them. Not even when one of the children has cancer that was a result of a father’s experimental x-ray treatments. Truth, like a sacred artifact meant for the Louvre, is placed behind layers of tempered glass, awaiting the day to never be unearthed. That, coupled with first hand experiences of insanity and a mother’s secret double life, makes up David’s childhood.

The pain and mental anguish in Stitches makes any sane person want to draw a hole and bury themselves in it, yet never has a graphic novel utilized the comic medium so well.

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Book Review: Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir, Humor
Literary Awards: National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography (2014), Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee for Best Reality-Based Work (2015), National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction (2014),Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction (2014)
ISBN 1608198065
228 pages
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Book Depository: click here

Reading memoirs tend to feel like traveling through thick fog on a sunny day; the journey through makes one a bit lost, as if navigating through past time not of one’s own, and when the fog clears, it’s not sure whether the sunny skies above were the same as those before journeying through it.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is a memoir not of Chast’s own, but those of her aging parents, woven with her mixed feelings towards caring for them, as well as bits and pieces of Chast’s teenage years, which explains the way she feels the way she feels for her parents, especially her mother. It brings the reader along through the excruciating caring process of two elderly parents who can’t seem to live without one another, the constant emotional struggles the author faces between caring for her parents as would a good daughter, and leaving them alone because she has to have her own space and also because of long-held emotional knots which has not yet been untied.

But wait, there’s more!