Home After Dark
Home After Dark

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Annotation: Thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt, abandoned by his mother, follows his father to dilapidated 1950s Marshfield, California, where he is forced to fend for himself against a ring of malicious bullies.
Catalog Number: #182061
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel
Publisher: W. W. Norton
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 399 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-87140-315-3 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-4397-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-87140-315-5 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-4397-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018015021
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
Publishers Weekly
In Small-s haunting coming-of-age tale, 13-year-old Russell Pruitt grows like a determined weed in the wake of masculinity so toxic it has literally killed a menagerie of pets in the small California town where he lives with his troubled father. The mystery of the mangled animals is one of several dark threads in Small-s fictional follow-up to his critically acclaimed memoir, Stitches. In a hero-s-journey narrative punctuated by episodic adventures, Russell searches for a sense of -home,- as Small again juxtaposes the horrors of an unhappy childhood with the bleak underbelly of 1950s and -60s America illustrated with his signature fine pen lines and grey wash. Even the grill of his father-s Buick growls menacingly. The men and boys in Russell-s life are absent, monstrous, victimized, or all of the above; Russel-s entrapment takes physical form when he-s stuck in an abandoned drainage tunnel in the arroyo. His Chinese-immigrant landlords show him kindness, but being young, angry, and white, Russell doesn-t see it, at least not at first. The story traffics in archetypes-the mean kid who frames the weirdo; the festering cruelty beneath the idyllic small-town facade-but never tips over into trite. With strikingly few words, Small tells Russell-s story in close-ups of bullies- sneers and bird-s-eye views of parking lots. Cats, dogs, lions, and other animals haunt Russell-s waking life and his dreams, perhaps because he, too, fights tooth and claw to survive. In depicting the toll of the harsh environment surrounding these lost boys, Small unearths an (almost) impossible tenderness. (Sept.)

Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Prominent picture-book illustrator Small (Imogene's Antlers, 2013, etc.) follows up his critically acclaimed 2009 graphic memoir, Stitches, with another look into the turmoil of adolescence in 1950s America.Russell is a sensitive, introspective boy of 13, which makes him easy prey for life's everyday brutalities. After his parents divorce, he heads from Ohio to California with his Korean War­ veteran father—a man who dismisses his son's concern over a stray puppy in a motel parking lot (said puppy is then struck down by a semi on a lonely stretch of highway). The Golden State doesn't prove to be the land of opportunity that Russell's father had hoped it would be, exposing Russell to xenophobia, animal mutilation, and abandonment. As Russell navigates life in a small, "Anywhere, U.S.A." town in Northern California, his greatest challenges arise through the relationships he develops—with his alcoholic father, with an outcast classmate who helps him elude bullies but exposes him to odd rituals, with the clique he forms with two roughhousing friends, one of whom is particularly good at pushing buttons in a bad-boy, alpha-male way. Russell struggles to understand himself and his place in the world and along the way makes regrettable decisions, sometimes tinged with violence, so the inexplicable kindness and charity of an older immigrant couple proves particularly vexing to the boy. Small is a master storyteller, moving the tale swiftly through pages with a wonderful array of panels, many of which are wordless or have just a choice bit of dialogue or narration; his illustrations—emotive, kinetic, with a striking balance of realism and cartoon and particularly arresting facial expressions—speak volumes. 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.
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Veteran artist and illustrator Small turns a deeply focused lens onto the isolation, loneliness, and relentless cruelty of male adolescence in this immensely powerful new work. Set in a small California town in the 1950s, this is light-years away from Mayberry. Thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt, abandoned by his mother and losing his father to a slow decline into alcoholism, navigates a seemingly endless minefield of social interactions as he attempts to integrate into his new school and neighborhood. As calculating as he is desperate for connection, Russell trades one uncomfortable friendship for two others, a decision that results in devastating results felt throughout the entire community. The dark narrative would be oppressive but for the unexpected kindness shown by a Chinese immigrant couple and several small, quietly profound moments of beauty. Drawn in Small's signature style, the narrative feels more like a series of sketches that capture the choices made by Russell and the people around him; snapshots of actions and consequences than a traditional narrative. 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.
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9-12

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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