Monday, 13 July 2015

Review: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home

Author: Alison Bechdel

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company

Pages: 234 Pages

Format: Hardcover

Source: Library

Where to Buy: Amazon CA, Book Depository, Chapters Indigo

A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books.
This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, it's a story exhilaratingly suited to graphic memoir form.
Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter's complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned "fun home," as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books.
When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is swift, graphic — and redemptive.
If you don't already know this about me, I am a huge musical theatre fangirl. I can't sing a lick, but oh I wish I could. So when all of a sudden I start hearing of this new show, called Fun Home, I was interested. I knew it was a graphic memoir, and I knew it centered around Alison Bechdel, a lesbian woman, and that it had received a crap ton of awards. So I picked it up from the library.

Guys. GUYS. This book.

This book is so important. The honesty that this book is infused with is inspiring. It's an absolute experience, getting to relive Alison Bechdel's life with the knowledge and wisdom she now has. She has such an intelligent voice and narration, and her ability to call a spade a spade even when it pertains to her own father and family is nothing that i've seen before.

The story centres around Alison Bechdel, a lesbian woman who grew up in a small Pennsylvania town with her two brothers, her mother, her closeted gay father, and their family business - the Bechdel Funeral Home, or Fun Home. And this story seems bleaks. Dear God, when I read the synopsis, I thought I was in for a doozy. But no. She wrote the truth. This wasn't a cliched story about coming out as a lesbian, or about her father's suicide. This was a story about human identification. It was a story about beginnings, and endings, and identifying with people, and the fear and uncertainty that comes along with it. This is such a specific story that so many people can identify with.

This was one of my first graphic novels, and it so suited this story. Alison Bechdel has stated before that she needs to draw true things, and that she can't trust her memory, so everything you see has an air of truth to it. Seeing things laid out before you in black and white (and hues of blues), makes it more real, and adds a startling layer to the already mind blowing story.

I have to give this a 5/5 Stars. It's a wild ride, and it just sticks with you. I can't stop thinking about it.

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