This week, as part of an on-going series covering not-your-average-summer-reads, I’m reviewing Stitches (2003) from Canadian author Glen Huser.
Travis is only gradually becoming aware of the many ways in which he’s a square peg in a round hole. He puts up with a daily barrage of anti-gay slurs and works hard to stay clear of class bully Shon in small-town Alberta, Canada.
What helps him survive the transition to middle school? He takes refuge in a puppet theater adaptation of Midsummer Night’s Dream and grabs onto the notion of being a “changeling.”
His best friend, Chantelle, is the first to think of it. She’s disabled and has been disfigured by surgeries.
“I think sometimes I’m a changeling,” she said. “Left by accident, or by fairies doing mischief.”
At first, Travis isn’t so sure the same applies to him: “I didn’t know what to say. I wondered sometimes why…I was the way I was. Liking to play with puppets, liking to sew costumes for them and playing with them instead of playing hockey.”
It’s Travis’s first, tentative step on the way to embracing his differences and seeing how his life can be different. Author Glen Huser doesn’t make the journey easy. Violent scenes of abuse alternate with those of creating a beautiful puppet drama.
Stitches is an interesting and thought-provoking mix for young adults who aren’t afraid of branching out and taking on a challenging summertime read. More than a gay coming of age novel, it’s a story about not fitting in—and learning not to mind.