TRADE | Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel

Posted By Whitney | 7 comments

One of my reading goals this year was to take a step outside my comfort zone, and figure out why everyone is talking about graphic novels, graphic memoirs, and comics. With Austyn a constant encouragement in my ear, I’ve read at least a dozen graphic stories from a handful of different writers this year.

When I heard that Fun Home was now becoming a Broadway musical, I knew I had to grab a copy.

I’m so glad I did!

There is something completely unique and wonderful about Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic memoir. I’m a regular reader of memoirs, but the graphic format added so much depth and dimension to fully communicate the layered and complex story of Bechdel’s childhood and early adulthood.

I was not prepared for how much this story would make me cry.

I should have known, to be perfectly honest. The subtitle on the freaking book is “A Tragicomic” y’all. Expect the tears.

Bechdel’s memoir details her relationship with her father, a third-generation funeral home director and English teacher, obsessed with historical preservation of what Alison and her brother refer to as their “fun home.”

Ultimately, it is revealed shortly after Alison came out her her parents as a lesbian that her icily indifferent parent was a closeted gay man who had multiple affairs with male students and a family babysitter (inappropriate in genuinely all contexts).

After discovering this information, her mother finally decides to ask for a divorce from her long marriage, shortly after which Bechdel’s father is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Bechdel and her family believed strongly that the accident was a suicide, adding a layer of tragedy to a complex family memoir.

Despite the heavy content, Bechdel manages to make this a laugh out loud funny memoir.

In particular, I adored Bechdel’s writing style – it’s oddly intimate and distant and quasi academic at the same time. Her English training, and her father’s, is clearly evident in how she describes her experiences.

I would highly recommend this to anyone – particularly anyone who hasn’t quite figured out the graphic memoir genre.

It’s a unique format that not every reader will experience on a regular basis. The combination of dialogue and art elevates the story beyond anything that a straight memoir could have achieved.




  1. Whitney – I didn’t even know this was a book before it was a musical? Do you know if the graphic portion of this book is compatible for Kindle reading?

    Post a Reply
    • I think that in theory you could buy it on Kindle, but I really wouldn’t recommend it for this book. You’ll be able to see the detail work a lot more clearly in the print version, and it’s just a different kind of experience! Can you step away from the Kindle long enough to try Fun Home?

      Post a Reply
      • Not at all! Kindle’s just the go to!

        Post a Reply
          • Excellent decision!!

  2. Two important questions! First, have you listened to the musical yet? Second, are you going to read Are You My Mother next? I liked Fun Home a lot but still haven’t done either of those two things. I don’t know why.

    Post a Reply
    • Ugh, I keep meaning to on both fronts! A friend of mine saw the musical, and I cannot wait to give it a listen! I’m hesitant because I’m afraid it’ll be a bit of a sob fest

      Post a Reply


  1. TRADE | Killing and Dying, by Adrian Tomine | Imaginary Book Club - […] the more literary land of the “graphic novel.” And one of my other recent favorites, Fun Home, is probably  more in the…

Leave a Reply

Like what you see?

Like what you see?

Find out what we're reading every month - straight to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!