Friday 12 February 2010

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Pages - 232

Published in 2006 by Jonathan Cape.

Challenges - Graphic Book Challenge, GBLT challenge, Library Challenge and Bibliophillic Challenge.

I am always amazed and find it to be rather serendipitous when you start reading a book for one challenge and then realise it ticks the boxes for absolutely loads of challenges. Fun Home is definitely one of those books. I picked it up purely for the Graphic Novel challenge, as I was struggling to find books to fill this genre. I had a vague awareness of the story, so I knew it might fill the GBLT challenge, but I had no idea that it would be full to the brim of references of different books read by the author and her father, so it ticked the Bibliophillic box too.

Fun Home is an unusual and extremely interesting memoir of Alison's life, growing up in an old Gothic mansion and helping out with the family business, the funeral parlour, or as they lovingly referred to it as the 'Fun Home'. The book looks very closely at Bechdel's relationship with her father, as she grew up. They were never really close and he seemed to view his family as free manual labour. There was always something, not quite right about her father, yet it wasn't until Bechdel informed her parents that she was a lesbian, that she found out the truth about the father she really didn't know.

Her father had secretly enjoyed relationships with men, all his life, yet he was never able to declare his homosexuality. Bechdel discovered her father had often stepped over the line between teacher and student to embark on affairs with the young lads he was teaching and came very close to losing his job over it. He also had an affair with their babysitter and took his children on holiday with him, without their awareness of the situation. Half way through the book, her father is killed in an accident, but Bechdel becomes convinced that he committed suicide, because he could no longer live the lie over his sexuality.

The book is littered with references to classic authors and Bechdel attempts to make parallels between the books of such authors as James Joyce and Colette and her own life, as well as her fathers. I found myself writing a little list of classic books that perhaps I now need to read. Bechdel's own realisation that she was a lesbian came about through the books that she read. She picked up one book on lesbianism followed by another and was soon trawling the libraries for all the books she could find to help her understand how she felt.

This book was a really interesting read and one I really enjoyed. I must just warn anyone who has children at home and who is planning to read this, I wouldn't leave it lying around as some of the pictures are quite graphic and may lead to lots of embarrassing questions! I found myself blushing profusely at some of the pictures. This book looks very closely at people's sexuality and coming to terms with their own identity and would be an ideal read for teenagers and adults alike who are struggling to come to terms with their own sexuality.

Other reviews of this book


Book, Line and Sinker

Paperback Reader


  1. Ahhh... a graphic novel that makes one blush. Hehe... I think I might check this out, Viv. Thanks for the review!

  2. Something in this book made me really uncomfrotable. It almost felt like Alison was saying because her father was a repressed gay man, that he became a molestor, and I don't like that. I don't like when homosexuality and pedophilia are tied together. It gives a bad name to the GLBT community. I know that this is a true story, but I still didn't like the tying together of those two things. It ruined the whole book for me.

  3. Sounds interesting. I thought Fun Home was a rather odd title, so I'm glad you explained where that came from.

  4. Amanda's comment makes sense to me and I can see why the book made her uncomfortable. I enjoyed the book because I didn't know what to expect from a graphic novel, and I found it so literary that I was very impressed. But I preferred Blankets to this one. I have only read those two, though!

  5. What serendipity! So perfect for your blog.

    I've read other reviews of this book as well, and it does sound good. Thanks for your warning about the pictures.

  6. I've never heard of this before but I'm not much into graphic novels though. One that can make you blush might be good though. lol.

  7. When I finally get rid of my TBR and start allowing myself to buy books again, I really want to get into graphic novels. This sounds like such an interesting one and one I'd definitely like to read. Going to put it on my wishlist. :) Great review, Viv.

  8. Alice - And I don't blush easily.

    Amanda - I can totally understand what you mean. The men were not all under age though were they. The baby sitter wasn't.

    Bermudaonion - I think the title definitely needed explaining.

    Aarti - yes I can understand Amanda's dislike. I hadn't focused on that point as I had only witnessed one rather risky relationship.

    Suko - isn't it just. I know you have young kids at home to, so do keep it out of reach.

    Dar - I hope you enjoy it.

    Ceri - I got mine from the library, why don't you try there, then if you like it you can buy it.

  9. Funny - I just posted a review of Fun Home myself today, although yours are definitely longer and more through than mine.

  10. I read this book last year and did not enjoy it at all. The characters (or caricatures of the individuals) did not interest me, and at times found myself quite bored.

    I read this book a year ago and was surprised by Amanda's comment. I did not remember any molestation?

  11. I just realized the same thing with a graphic novel I finished recently - it also would serve for my short story challenge! I love it when that happens - gives me hope that I may finish a challenge after all. haha...

    Glad you liked this one. For some reason I was expecting a book that was lighthearted so I was surprised by that. I loved the literary references too.

  12. I do want to read this. I heard about it awhile ago and it seemed like an interesting read. Glad to see that you liked it.

    Want to enter my Book Lover's Basket Giveaway?? It would help my family a ton in the long run too!!


  13. Hi. I'm a fellow Bibliophilic Challenge blogger. Your review made me think of several related books. The first is another graphic novel, Skim, by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by her cousin Gillian Tamaki. It's a young adult coming out story. Another graphic novel, Stitches, also features the discovery of a parent's sexuality. And Pathologies by Susan Olding is a wonderful collection of personal essays by a woman whose father was a pathologist. The first essay in the collection took my breath away. It wasn't a comfortable read, but it was a stunningly crafted essay.


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