Review: Fun Home

Author: Allison Bechdel
Published: June 8, 2006
Genre: Graphic Memoir
FLW Rating: 4/5

Fun Home was my first graphic novel — and I think I’ve discovered a beautiful new (to me) genre. I’m one of those people other readers hate because I’ve sometimes disliked a memoir for feeling that it was too self involved. I know, I know, I should stop reading memoirs if those are my feelings. But more to the point, I’ve discovered that the genre of graphic novel memoirs can tell the story both so much more thorougly and so much more concisely. As someone who messaged me on instagram said, “all memoirs should be told as graphic novels.”

Fun Home is the autobiographical graphic memoir of Allison Bechdel, a homosexual writer currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up Allison had a complicated relationship with her father and when he suddenly passed away, she is forced to reflect on her life with him in it and how it formed her in to the person she is today.

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As I mentioned above, I really loved how succinct this book was. I don’t think that’s normally a good thing to say about a book (“I loved how short it was”), but I’m viewing this thought as a reflection on the style and efficiency of story telling, more than a relief that it’s over. While the story was short, I felt like I was able to enjoy it more than a written book of similar length because I was discovering the story in so many ways – though art, through words in the photos, and then through the caption. It was engaging and kept me turning the pages until I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Specific to this story, one thing that didn’t work for me was the shear amount of literary references. I understand that they were necessary in telling Allison and her father’s story because of how much they were a part of that relationship, but for me as an engineer/contemporary reader, it was hard for me to understand a lot of the story, since it was deeply ingrained in older literature. I googled a few things, pieced the points together, and ultimately did enjoy the story, but I feel like I should throw that out there for you, and mention that if you have similar reading habits, maybe start with another graphic memoir with less literary references.

Overall, I really enjoyed Fun Home and learning about Allison and her father. I thought the story was beautiful illustrated and beautifully told. If I were better at older literature references or had received more context in the story, this book would have hit a little harder for me.

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