The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. For more information about the award and previous winners, check out the Alex Awards page on the YALSA website.
David Small wrote and illustrated Home After Dark, published by Liveright, an imprint of W.W. Norton & Company. After his mother abandons them, his father uproots thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt to a rundown town in 1950s California. Russell tries to fit in while navigating a landscape of homophobic bullies and a serial animal killer. David Small’s storytelling and lush illustrations capture all the uncertainties of adolescence in this coming of age story.
Becky Reiser, 2019 Alex Award committee member, interviewed David Small about his book.
Your graphic novel Home After Dark,chronicles the 50s-era adolescence of Russell Pruitt. Although it less common to hear about a teen running away with his bike today, do you feel there are parallels to teens coming of age in 2019?
Yes, I do think there are parallels. After all, the process of the body’s hormonal development, the growth patterns of our brains haven’t changed. I’m quite sure kids now process things as they always have; there are just so many new things to process and a new rapidity to it all. We’re all on a roller-coaster of informational overload, but with teens, there is a rush to grow up, and they have the Web, with exposure to matters that are both critical and intangible. There is always, with teenagers, an incentive to seem mature about things which they aren’t even genuinely curious about until certain hormones kick in. There is a sophistication in our youth that wasn’t there in the 50’s, or at least a veneer of it. The overlay of irony and sarcasm which permeates everything nowadays gives kids an air of urbanity, though I’m sure it’s no more than a surface impression.