Meadowlark: A Coming-of-Age Crime Story

Grand Central. Aug. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781538714577. $26. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Clashing with his mother and stepfather is bad enough, but after Cooper is caught with drugs and expelled from high school, there’s no doubt that he’s teetering on the edge of real trouble. Cooper’s father Jack (a professional boxer–turned–prison guard) has no better idea what to do with his son than bring him along when he goes to work at the prison in Huntsville, TX, where he tells Cooper that he oversees some of the most vicious criminals imaginable. Cooper, for his part, is pleased to discover that his father’s coworkers worship the former boxing champion almost as much as he does; he thrills to their tales of Jack’s exploits. Suddenly, a riot breaks out. In the bloody aftermath, Cooper and a severely wounded Jack race across rural Texas, chasing a group of escaped prisoners who think Jack has hidden a fortune in cash in his ex-wife’s home. (The inmates, Jack, and Cooper all present as white in the naturalistic illustrations by Ruth.) As they fight for survival, father and son struggle to come to terms with the way the myths they’ve created around one another have defined their relationship, as well as the way each sees himself.
VERDICT The second collaboration between Hawke (A Bright Ray of Darkness) and Ruth (Freaks of the Heartland) is an emotionally complex hard-boiled thriller.
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