by Eleanor Davis. Drawn & Quarterly, 2019. 152 p. ill. ISBN 9781770463738 (hardcover), $24.95.

Reviewed June 2020
Lauren Scanlon, MLS Candidate in Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, lpscanlon@wisc.edu

hard tomorrow coverThe Hard Tomorrow, a new graphic novel by award-winning author and illustrator Eleanor Davis, tells of persistent hope in the face of disappointment, fear, frustration, futility, and grief. Davis draws a tender, candid portrait of the messiness of life through a cross-section of Hannah’s days; living in a van with a boyfriend who may not be living up to her expectations, enmeshed in a close friendship with an unclear definition, providing at-home health care for an elderly woman and engaging in political activism. The Hard Tomorrow doesn’t offer clear answers or tidy endings, but asks us to sit with uneasy questions about the nature of bravery and the shape of hope. The novel strikes some particularly relevant chords this summer, as the United States bears witness to the Black Lives Matters protests and grapples with the community and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At first glance, the drawing style might appear misleadingly disheveled. But the author’s organic, flowing line drawings are simultaneously intricate and loose, mirroring the untidy stories they tell. Well-placed pauses – the many silent panels throughout the book – speak volumes and skillfully carry the story forward. Davis’ careful attention to visual detail affords a rich second reading and her powerful characters frequently speak with their eyes alone.

This book would be an excellent addition to library collections featuring adult fiction, alternative graphic novels, and books about grassroots political movements in the U.S. and social justice. Some aspects, such as drug use and sexual content, may not be suitable for young adult readers.