Author: Alison Bechdel
Genre: Autobiography; Graphic novels (Nonfiction); Memoirs; Family and relationships; Adult books for young adults;
Publication Date: 2006
Number of Pages: 232
Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania
Time Period: 1960’s – early 1980’s
Series (If applicable): n/a
Plot Summary: This graphic memoir—graphic as in comic strip, not explicit (though there is an explicit moment)—centers around the author’s slow revelation that she is a lesbian and her relationship with her closeted English teacher/historical house restorer/funeral home director father. It’s full of references to Greek myths and American novels and plays that will please literary folks and non-literary types as the graphic representations help convey the meaning of the references. This dark but not depressing multiple award nominee and winner will appeal to readers that like a more mature coming-of-age memoir.
Subject Headings: Bechdel, Alison, 1960 – Comic books, strips, etc.; Father and daughter; Closet gay men; Lesbian teenagers – Coming out; Brothers; English language teachers; Gay men; Undertakers and undertaking; Parent and child; Children of divorced parents; Funeral homes; Teacher-student relationships; Divorce; Death; Historic preservation; Cartoonists – United States.
Appeal: candid; darker; humorous; introspective; melancholy; moving; moody; poignant; reflective; sophisticated; thoughtful; eccentric; quirky; realistic; sympathetic; well-developed; authentic; character-centered; issue-oriented; literary references; accurate; contemporary; accessible; chatty; conversational; direct; frank; informal; smart; straightforward; witty; award winner.
3 appeal terms that best describe this book: witty; reflective; candid
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Epileptic by David B. This is another moving and thoughtful memoir told in a graphic medium. Epileptic, like Fun Home, is about a family with problems and how the author came out of the experience, though the problems are different.
You’ll Never Know by Carol Tyler. This moving and thoughtful story is the first book in this 3-part graphic novel/memoir that centers around the author’s relationship with her father and how it affected her later relationships. Bechdel’s memoir Fun Home is also a moving and thoughtful graphic novel/memoir that focuses on her relationship with her father.
Running with Scissors by August Burroughs. It’s not a graphic novel but, like Fun Home, Running with Scissors is a candid, engaging and witty coming-of-age memoir.
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
A Family Matter by Will Eisner. Though this candid graphic novel only covers a day in the life, it too reveals family secrets that include suppressed dark family secrets.
Martin Bauman: or, A Sure Thing by David Leavitt is also a character-driven, moody and witty coming-of-age novel. Though this tale about an insecure writer struggling to come out of the closet may be based on the author’s own life, it seems that Leavitt may have also had a mentor-type figure that strongly shaped the author’s life.
Escape from “Special” by Miss Lasko-Gross is a coming-of-age graphic novel of a girl trying to get through a difficult childhood with hippie parents. The muted colors of the artwork is similar to Fun Home (Fun Home uses grayish blues and Escape uses smoky grays) in that it evokes a moody tone throughout the darkly humorous story.
Name: Ally C.
Tags: accessible, accurate, authentic, award-winner, candid, character centered, contemporary, conversational, darker, direct, eccentric, frank, humorous, informal, introspective, issue-oriented, literary references, melancholy, moody, Moving, poignant, quirky, realistic, reflective, smart, sophisticated, straightforward, sympathetic, thoughtful, well-developed, witty