Last week, I dared to wander past my usual novel choice and straight into the hands of the graphic novel world. I asked for Bechdel’s book, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic for Christmas. Lucky for me, it’s a gift I received from my husband and I was eager to dive in. Fun Home is a memoir of Bechdel’s bumpy relationship with her father, who was a school teacher and a closet homosexual. More so, this is her coming out story.
From an artistic point of view, the front cover is shiny, green, and attractive. If I didn’t already know about this book, I would have picked it up out of a pile just based on its smooth sheen. Inside, the art doesn’t disappoint. Alison Bechdel is an excellent cartoonist. She is able to capture emotional moments, sexual moments, and moments of frustration with a unique flare that is honest, raw, and fiercely admirable. Down below is a video about her creation process, and she points out just how much research went into making the drawings accurate. Bechdel’s talent is mind-blowing!
Without giving anything away, she tells a story about living with her father growing up and offers hindsight into the relationship. They are opposites in many ways and butt heads regarding wardrobe, house chores, etc. Yet in important facets, they are one in the same.
One thing that fascinated me was the circle of life. If Alison’s father had lived his life as an openly gay man, Alison would not exist. He suffered to some level his entire life to keep his sexuality a secret. I wonder how this weighs on Alison. To me, it’s both tragic and beautiful.
As a straight woman, it is hard for me to imagine how people in the LGBTQ community cope with the process of coming out. I have an obvious sense of solidarity and support, but I have not lived through the experience personally. Books like Fun Home are vastly important for teaching empathy to people who have not been in these circumstances. Reading in general is a great way to learn where other people come from and what they have been through. Because standing up for fellow humans is important to me, I loved learning about Alison, who she was as a child, and who she became by the end of the novel.
This was an awesome first experience reading a graphic novel. Not only was it the right pace, with some somber laughs, but it also was eye opening. Who knew I would love a book laden with pictures as much as I did. It was a quick read, too. I finished it in less than a week and with work, being a mom, and all the rest of life — that’s pretty quick! It helped tremendously with my goal of reading one book per month this year. Here we are in mid-February and I’m already close to three books done. Yeah!
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys blunt, dry humor, and has a love for memoirs. I can’t say that there is anyone I wouldn’t recommend this to. I one hundred percent feel that its books like these that change our world for the better. I would like to give this graphic novel a five star rating. But because it’s my first, I should read a few more before I commit to such strong praise! Right?
If you have read Fun Home, you may also like:
- Marbles: Mania Depression, Michelangelo, And Me by Ellen Forney
- Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash
- One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
What do you think my next graphic novel adventure should be?
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Featured image via Author’s Own