Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: Book Review

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Cover of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

4 Stars

In this graphic novel memoir, Alison Bechdel explores her relationship with her father, who later admitted to being homosexual; his suicide; her childhood; and her early years after coming out as a lesbian.

I really kind of hate reviewing these kinds of books. They’re so intensely personal. Who am I to judge the work of someone who has effectively bled his or her heart out on the page? Any negative comments feel like personal attacks when I write them. So here’s the best I can do.

Let me first get what I didn’t care for out of the way. The tone of the book is so very earnest and introspective and intellectual, ultimately drawing parallels between Joyce’s Ulysses and her relationship with her father. Holy smokes. I only think that way in lit class. It’s appropriate and relevant, I get that. It’s just not my way of dealing with crap and so I don’t really relate to it.

At the same time, I admire Bechdel for her bravery in putting her story out there. I’m sure it’s a form of therapy for her, getting what she feels out on paper and working it out for herself. But it also help others who may be going through something similar.

I liked the artwork a lot. The stark black and whites matched the somber tone of the book perfectly. Some of them will be too graphic for some readers though.

I think that the summary alone will tell you whether this is a book for you or not. If you’re interested, I do recommend it.

This graphic novel has been at the center of several controversies. There’s a good summary at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. It gets head-shakingly ironic. It all seems to stem from allegations that the book is pornographic. Well, no. As I mentioned above, some artwork will be too graphic for some readers. But it is a book that at least partially centers around sexuality. It would be weird to avoid it altogether. What is there is done as tastefully as it can be while still being true to the content of the book.

Find author/artist Alison Bechdel on her website, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy Fun Home at

photo credit: Old Books by Petr Kratochvil

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

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