Home After Dark by David Small
Few can blend words and images into heartfelt storytelling like David Small. In his latest graphic novel, Home After Dark (Liveright, $27.95), readers follow thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt as he grows up in 1950s America. Abandoned by his mother, Russell is forced to live with his emotionally abusive father. As his circumstances continue to deteriorate, it becomes clear that this isn’t a story of a teenager boldly overcoming life’s obstacles: this is a tale of a boy struggling to tread the murky waters of adolescence. Hope eventually comes in the form of the Mahs, a Chinese couple Russell meets on his journey. Despite facing their own struggles, particularly racist sentiment against them from Russell's friends and neighbors, the Mahs reach across this cultural divide to lend a hand to a person in need. Each page of Small’s artwork is simply mesmerizing. The images are a somber contemplation of hardship that feel as if they’re drawn from memory itself. Beautifully rendered, masterfully told, this is a book you won’t be able to resist reading when you’re home after dark.