Hobo Mom

Charles Forsman relinquishes control of illustration in this charming but heart-breaking story about an unconventionally fractured family

Tasha in Hobo Mom

Charles Forsman usually focuses his stories around dysfunctional teenagers, but this book is subtly different. While there’s still a lot of dysfunctional behaviour, here it’s delivered by an older couple, who have left their teenage years well behind.

Natasha is a mother so dysfunctional she doesn’t appear in her daughters life until the girl is approaching puberty. Having left her partner, Tom, holding baby daughter Sissy, she deserted the family home to take up the life of a hobo, drifting from town to town.

However, after being the victim of a violent crime, Natasha decides she needs to see her daughter again, so changes the course back to her previous life. It’s a poignant, difficult meeting between three people – child and parents – whose lives have diverged.

Sissy and Tasha in Hobo Mom

De Radiguès’ art seems to channel Forsman’s, but it’s a neater, tidier version. However, it remains totally in keeping, with characters that look like they could have stepped out of one of Forsman’s other books, with simply a bit of added edge and definition. We wholeheartedly approve.

Hobo Mom is a short but unputdownable slice of heartbreak. There’s less of Forsman’s usual aggression (though the story still uses violence as its opening trigger) but all of his extraordinary ability to conjure characters of depth and complexity out of simple premises and situations.

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