Graphic Novel Review: Fun Home

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.
Mariner Books Imprint, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2006, my edition 2007.
Graphic novel memoir, 232 pages.
Not leveled.
NOTE: This book is intended for adults, not children.

After reading a good portion of this, it felt familiar.  I think I read at least part of it before either as a library checkout, or an excerpt posted online or put in another anthology.  This was published at about the time I went through a lot of graphic novels, so it’s conceivable I read this and either did not finish or simply forgot it because of the volume of books I was reading at the time (once upon a time I used to finish a book every day).

This story explores both the author’s understanding of her sexuality and gender expression as well as her father’s death.  Bechdel comes to terms with being a butch lesbian raised in a small town by brilliant but self-absorbed parents.  She writes about how she learned about her own sexuality, coming out to her parents, being drawn to men’s clothing even as her gay father tried to feminize her, making her wear dresses and do her hair a certain way.

Fun Home cover
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.

Shortly after her mother asks for a divorce, her father jumps into the path of a truck while Bechdel is away at college.  There are some signs it may have been a suicide and others that it was an accident.

The story is even more darkly comedic because the Bechdel family owns the local funeral home.  This part-time job means the kids grow up playing between caskets and see bodies being embalmed at an early age.  The “Fun Home” of the title was the family’s nickname for the funeral parlor.  However the title could also refer to their family home; lovingly restored by her father with little input from the rest of the family, it was a dollhouse in which they still had to live.

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