Home After Dark

Liveright: Norton. Sept. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780871403155. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631493362. GRAPHIC NOVELS
OrangeReviewStarMulti-award-winning writer/artist Small (Stitches) returns with an important novel about adolescence and the search for identity. In the mid-1950s, Russell Pruitt and his father, a Korean War veteran, flee Ohio and settle in the rural town of Marshfield, CA. His father takes a job teaching English to prisoners at San Quentin, and Russell spends his days exploring, eventually befriending a boy named Warren. After a sexual encounter with Warren leaves Russell shaken, he ends that friendship and takes up with some rough, smart-aleck neighborhood kids. Their days are filled with wandering, riding bikes, and fantasizing about their futures, and all is idyllic until one of Russell's new friends hatches a sinister scheme to ruin the reputation of poor, rejected Warren. Small is a masterful illustrator, with an incredible ability to establish his characters' inner lives through physical gestures or facial expressions, conveying a kaleidoscopic style of storytelling reminiscent of filmmaker Terrence Malick.
VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert, 4/9/18.]
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