In David Small’s new graphic novel Home After Dark, he soberly explores a 13-year old’s struggle with belonging. Just as he did with the critically acclaimed Stiches: A Memoir, David Small has crafted a somber and compelling coming-of-age story that will resonate with people of all ages.
Home After Dark centers around the experiences of 13-year old Russell Pruitt. After his parents divorced, Russell, together with his father, leave Iowa for California, in search of a new beginning. Instead of settling in a picturesque community, Russell and his father end up in Marshfield, California, a small town with a history steeped in racism, xenophobia, and bigotry. As he attempts to navigate and understand this new world, Russell encounters many people whose perspectives, behaviors, and actions shape Russell’s sense of self and identity — his troubled war-veteran father; a schoolmate who is a social outcast due to their sexuality; two rowdy boys; and a married Chinese immigrant couple. Russell is confused at how some men equate manliness with aggressiveness while still more embrace violence and intimidation. When confronted by the kindness, quiet dignity, and gentleness of some, Russell struggles to reconcile it with the ugliness found in others.
Home After Dark is written in a very sparse manner, dialogue is only used when absolutely necessary. The story is mostly told through expressive and beautifully rendered illustrations. Each illustrated panel evokes real, authentic, and often incredibly raw emotions. The result is a novel that speaks volumes. David Small’s Home After Dark is moving and profound.
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Anya, embarrassed by her Russian immigrant family and self-conscious about her body, has given up on fitting in at school but falling down a well and making friends with the ghost there just may be worse.
Ivy by Sarah Oleksyk
Ivy, a teenage girl raised by a single mother in a small coastal town in Maine, longs to leave her home and achieve her dream of becoming a painter. Unfortunately, daily life doesn’t run smoothly for someone whose anger often gets the better of her, andwho makes enemies more easily than friends. But when Ivy begins a long-distance relationship with a kindred spirit, she gets a glimpse of freedom and acceptance too good to pass up. Only while trying to escape her troubles does she start to realize that while she can leave home, she can’t run away from herself (publisher’s description).
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
Rose’s latest summer at a beach lake house is overshadowed by her parents’ constant arguments, her younger friend’s secret sorrows, and the dangerous activities of older teens.
*Description from Novelist Plus, unless otherwise specified*