Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Review: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

This has been on my TBR list for what seems like forever - or at least since I learned about the existence of graphic novels.  I finally got around to reading it when it was assigned for an MOOC I'm taking on comic books and graphic novels.  It's the story of Bechdel's childhood, specifically of her troubled relationship with her father.  Shortly after coming out to her parents, Bechdel learned her father also had a history of homosexual relationships.  And shortly after that, he died suddenly in what may have been an accident but Bechdel believes to be a suicide.

Writing/Illustration
For a graphic novel, this book includes a good deal of text.  And that's in no way a criticism because Bechdel uses the text to tell her story in a very touching way.  I was impressed with both the quality of the writing and with the quality of the images.  I loved reading a graphic novel written by a woman as well - it was unique and insightful.

Entertainment Value
As far as being entertained, there were some moments when I felt like the story dragged.  I had expected more about Bechdel's childhood in the "fun home" - her family's mortuary business, but the book largely focuses on Bechdel and her sexuality.  It wasn't a bad thing, but it wasn't what I was expecting from the book either and I think it threw me off.  A note of warning: the book does center largely around Bechdel's coming out and developing sexual identity and includes illustrations of sex acts that some readers may find jarring or offensive.  I certainly don't recommend it to those who are put off by sexual content in books.

Overall
I think it definitely has its audience.  If you're into feminism, coming out stories, twisted family relationships, and graphic representations, I think you'll be pleased.  But I wouldn't recommend it to the casual reader who is interested in discovering graphic novels for the first time.

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