A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Home After Dark offers a chance to discuss the topics of toxic masculinity, bullying, and scapegoating.
People from very different cultural backgrounds can find a way to live together in harmony. People need to stand up to bullying.
Positive Role Models
Russell struggles with need to fit in with his peers, unsure what it means to be a responsible teen. He's naturally kind, but his insecurities and lack of parental oversight push him to indulge in negative behavior.
Violence & Scariness
Home After Dark contains scenes of violence. Russell and his friend Warren are brutally beaten and bullied. A character commits suicide, but the act is not illustrated. Someone in town tortures and kills kittens and puppies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Warren and Russell hug while Warren is naked. Russell sees Kurt and a waitress together after the two of them have had sex.
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Swearing is frequent and varied, with a few instances each of "damn," "hell," "f--k," "s--t," "f--got," and "d--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Supporting characters, including Russell's father, smoke and get drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Home After Dark is a graphic novel by David Small, author of Stitches. It's about a 13-year-old boy in Northern California who must fend for himself when his parents abandon him. The story explores toxic masculinity, bullying, and scapegoating and contains many violent scenes in which the main character or his friend is brutally beaten. Strong language is frequent, with a few instances each of "damn," "hell," "f--k," "s--t," "f--got," and "d--k." Warren lies on top of Russell while naked, and Kurt has sex with a waitress. Various characters smoke and drink.
Is It Any Good?
Stories of abandonment and bullying certainly are nothing new, but this exquisitely detailed graphic novel explores the topic with a powerful, cinematic approach. In Home After Dark, David Small captures the look and feel of another era but shows how some struggles are ever-present. In Russell, he presents a protagonist at odds with nearly everyone around him, desperate for connection even with people who put him down. The language and action are often harrowing, and the book achieves its greatest resonance in its small moments. It's suitable for older teens but may be too harsh for younger readers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.