Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

jacket $14.95, 232 pages, Graphic Novel-Autobiography-Nonfiction

A nonfiction graphic novel in the form of a memoir in which the author recounts her childhood and the role of her father throughout.

Alison Bechdel’s website

The Simon


NY Times

Bechdel’s memoir of growing up is unique in its graphic novel format.  Her family runs a funeral home,  father struggles with his sexuality and she begins to question her feelings and role through it all.  When Bechdel’s father faces criminal charges stemming from his encounters with young men, the tone changes considerably.  While Bechdel attempts to maintain a relationship with her father through a love for prose, his suicide alters everything.  Bechdel explores her sexuality while away at college and eventually comes out when bringing her partner home to meet the family.

This graphic novel is quite unique.  Overall, I enjoyed the memoir portion and appreciated Bechdel’s observations and commentary.  I loved the glimpses of shared experiences through reading that smattered the book.  I did discover that for me personally, some images are best left to the written word.

Novelist recommends the following as read-alikes in the nonfiction graphic novel genre: Blankets: An Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson, Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi and Little Things: a Memoir in Slices by Jeffrey Brown. (accessed March 5, 2013)

Some of the Awards for Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic from Bechdel’s website,

Fun Home won the 2006 Publishing Triangle’s Judy Grahn Nonfiction Award, a Lambda Book Award, an Eisner award, and the Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award from the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table. It was also nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Time, 12/25/06, #1 Best Book of the Year New York Times, 12/3/06, 100 Notable Books of 2006 Entertainment Weekly, 12/22/06, Best Books of the Year, #1 Nonfiction People, 12/25/06, Top 10 Books of the Year USA Today, 12/21/06, Best Graphic Title of 2006 Los Angeles Times, 12/10/06, Favorite Books of 2006, Fiction and Poetry San Francisco Chronicle, 12/17/06, The Year’s Best Books New York Magazine, 12/18/06, Best Books of the Year, #7 Time Out New York, 12/06, Favorite Books of the Year Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/24/06, Best Books of 2006 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 12/3/06, Best Books of 2006 The Plain Dealer, 12/10/06, Outstanding Books of 2006 Salon, 12/12/06, Best Debuts of 2006, Nonfiction The Capital Times, 12/12/06, 2006 Favorites Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/15/06, Best of Year Out, 12/2006, 100 Most Intriguing People of 2006, Editor’s Choice, Top 50 Books of 2006, Top 10 Memoirs of 2006 Oregonian, 12/31/06, Best Books of 2006, #2 The Advocate, 1/07, Best Book of the Year The Guardian (UK), 11/26/06, Pick of 2006 New York Blade, 12/29/06, Literary Stand Outs of 2006 PW Comics Week, Critic’s Poll, Best Comic Book of 2006 Publishers Weekly, Best Books of the Year 2006 Times (UK), 12/16/06, Best Books of 2006, #10 Newsday, 1/2/07, Favorite Books of 2006 The Village Voice, 25 Favorite Books of 2006

Appeal Factors: Bittersweet, Fast-Paced, Nostalgic, Somber

Discussion Questions were developed for this book: Study Guide Questions

I chose this book as my first foray into the graphic novel genre.  I thought that by choosing a nonfiction selection, it might help me associate the visual images with the storyline.

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