Summary and book reviews of Home After Dark by David Small

Home After Dark

by David Small

Home After Dark by David Small X
Home After Dark by David Small
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  • Published:
    Sep 2018, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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Book Summary

David Small's long-awaited graphic novel is a savage portrayal of male adolescence gone awry like no other work of recent fiction or film.

Wildly kaleidoscopic and furiously cinematic, Home After Dark is a literary tour-de-force that renders the brutality of adolescence in the so-called nostalgic 1950s, evoking such classics as The Lord of the Flies. Thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt, abandoned by his mother, follows his father to sun-splashed California in search of a dream. Suddenly forced to fend for himself, Russell struggles to survive in Marshfield, a dilapidated town haunted by a sadistic animal killer and a ring of malicious boys who bully Russell for being "queer." Rescued from his booze-swilling father by Wen and Jian Mah, a Chinese immigrant couple who long for a child, Russell betrays their generosity by running away with their restaurant's proceeds. Told almost entirely through thousands of spliced images, once again "employ[ing] angled shots and silent montages worthy of Alfred Hitchcock" (Washington Post, on Stitches), Home After Dark becomes a new form of literature in this shocking graphic interpretation of cinema verité.

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Home After Dark powerfully conveys the psychic and societal damage wrought by a culture of toxic masculinity. Russell is so unsure about which modes of masculinity are acceptable, his self-image so malleable and distorted (brilliantly portrayed as Russell examines his warped reflection in a Christmas tree bulb and, later, in a spoon), that he finds it almost impossible to trust anyone - including himself and, most poignantly, the Chinese immigrant family the Mahs, whose kindness Russell first betrays and then only reluctantly acknowledges and accepts. Nevertheless, the novel's closing pages - as Russell finds himself in an unexpected state of grace - offers a glimpse of hope for a better, kinder future.   (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Full Review Members Only (606 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In depicting the toll of the harsh environment surrounding these lost boys, Small unearths an (almost) impossible tenderness.

Booklist
Starred Review. The illustrations, limited to pen, ink, and washes done in a simple, loosely sketched style, convey the nuanced range of emotion of all things left unsaid. Spare and powerful, this is not to be missed.

Library Journal
Starred Review. While the incredible success of Stitches, a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Young Adult Library Services Association's Alex Award, might have seemed almost impossible to follow up, Small has managed to create an even more resonant and stirring work.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Grappling with questions of identity and society, the story has the authenticity and ache of universal experience - filtered through the singular eye of a visionary. Powerful and profound.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

An Introduction to Graphic Novels

If David Small's Home After Dark is your first introduction to visual storytelling through book-length graphics, you're in for a treat. There is a wealth of wonderful, accessible yet profound books that can serve as a terrific introduction for new graphic novel fans. This list just scratches the surface of this fantastically rich and diverse art form - readers who want to learn more should peruse past winners of the Eisner Awards as well as any number of online "best of" lists.

MausMaus by Art Spiegelman
It would be almost unthinkable to compile any kind of list of notable graphic novels and not include this 1986 masterpiece, which paved the way for countless works to follow by retelling the atrocities of the Holocaust via a cat-and-mouse ...

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