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.
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