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Stitches – Synopsis

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Travis lives with an aunt, Kitaleen, and a brood of younger cousins in an odd double-decker trailer on the edge of Acton, a small Alberta town. Kitaleen’s husband, Mike, is bombastic and sometimes abusive, with little patience for his nephew’s girlish ways. Travis’s mother, Gentry, travels with her country band, surfacing only periodically to touch base with him. The victim of three schoolyard bullies over the years, Travis has discovered a champion in a classmate, Chantelle, a girl with physical disabilities. When he is in grade six, Travis is encouraged to put on a puppet-play of Peter Pan at school for a book project. He forms a team with Chantelle and another classmate, Amber. The presentation is so successful that his teacher, Mr. Cambert, challenges him to do a puppet dramatization of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a follow up when he’s in junior high school.

In junior high, the bullying increases when Travis becomes the first boy in the school to take a sewing course instead of woodworking. He is attacked by Shon Docker and his two sidekicks at one point on his way home from school, and his body smeared with black shoe polish. But his friendship with Chantelle flourishes and Travis finds himself getting to know her unusual family – her sick father suffering from dementia, her mother – always on the lookout for a chance to party – and a couple of her biker brothers.

It isn’t until grade nine, though, that he decides to tackle doing a puppet production of the Shakespeare play. Miss Riccio, who has been teaching sewing at the school, talks him into presenting a musical production of the play as part of the graduation week festivities. Chantelle is willing, and Malcolm, a classmate who likes composing on his keyboard, comes on board to write the songs. Amber, who has been Shon Docker’s girlfriend for some time, breaks up with him and rejoins the group.

Matters become complicated when Kitaleen has an accident and breaks her leg. Travis ends up having to take on a good deal of the household chores, with little spare time for practices, but the puppet troupe perseveres. Not only is the play a smash hit, but Travis and Chantelle – and Malcolm and Amber — have a great time at the graduation dance.

Going home from the dance with Chantelle though, Travis is dragged into a car by Shon and his thugs and driven out to the gravel pits at the edge of town. A drunken Shon blames Travis for Amber dumping him and he’s determined to get revenge. Travis manages to break free but, in the course of fleeing the bullies, ends up plunging over a ridge, cutting himself and breaking bones. He hears the sounds of motorbikes in the distance. Chantelle’s biker brothers have figured out where delinquents are most likely to gather, and have come to rescue him.

Travis blacks out and comes to in the hospital, being treated by Malcolm’s dad. The cut in his face needs stitches – and his leg needs a cast. As he recovers in hospital, Miss Riccio visits him and plants the idea of Travis moving to Edmonton and attending a fine arts high school where his talents will be nurtured. Gentry agrees and the move is made over the summer. The bullies end up being charged so there is some justice, finally, and it does seem a better world in the city. But, making use of his new computer, Travis emails Chantelle, telling her how much he misses her. He reminds her that leaving Acton is something she might want to think about as well. “My tote bag is coming apart,” she replies. “Moving to the city to be close to a very good Stitchmaster is making more and more sense.”