Review: Fun Home

What it is: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel is a graphic memoir that examines Bechdel’s childhood, especially her relationship with her father and her discovery and exploration of her sexuality. Almost everything in the graphic memoir, from people in Bechdel’s life to to the literature she reads, seems to parallel elements of her personality, making the book feel cyclical, concrete, and just-so.

What I liked about it: Basically everything. I loved this book. The writing is thought-provoking and represents an incredible balance between poignant and analytical, profound and comical, personal and universal. The art is great and adds so much to the story–its graphic-ness is absolutely essential to the memoir because it adds constant emotional imagery to her words. She could leave out explanations of the little details because they’re in the drawings, making it simultaneously simple and intricately detailed.

What I didn’t like about it: Like I mentioned before, much of Bechdel’s plot points parallel each other. One of those parallels is an in-depth comparison of Homer’s The Odyssey and James Joyce’s Ulysses to the journey of her relationship with her father. While I like the juxtaposition elsewhere in Bechdel’s book, I’m rusty at best on The Odyssey (and I’ll admit I didn’t really understand it when I read it four years ago) and know absolutely nothing about Ulysses, so that extended explanation was lost on me. I felt frustrated, like I had failed to complete the required prerequisites.

Memorable quote (mild spoiler alert): “But that would only confirm that his death was not my fault. That, in fact, it had nothing to do with me at all. And I’m reluctant to let go of that last, tenuous bond.”

Overall rating: 5/5 stars.

Challenge satisfied: #20, read a graphic novel, a graphic memoir, or a collection of comics of any kind.

Additional notes: This was the first graphic anything (novel, memoir, comic) that I’ve read, not counting the Sunday comics. I had a lot of prejudice against graphic novels before reading this one, but now I want to dive into the genre. If you’re hesitant about trying graphic novels, this is an excellent place to start.


Fun Home is book 6 of 24 for my Read Harder Challenge. You can also check out my reviews of Cry No More and The Cleft

Psst. Does the name Bechdel sound familiar to you? She’s also the author of the comic strip that satirically created the Bechdel test. For more on that, click here.

An affiliate link is used in this post. All opinions in this review are my own and are not influenced by the affiliate.

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37 thoughts on “Review: Fun Home

  1. Such a wonderful book. If you haven’t, I recommend checking out her other memoir (Are You My Mother?). They’re both amazing! Thanks for sharing! If you’re ever interested in some other great book reviews and musings, be sure to follow! Thanks!

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  2. Sounds like a really good read. Thank you for providing the Amazon link! I like the idea of a nonfiction graphic novel. I would probably get lost on the Ulysses references, too. ^^;

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  3. I have that prejudice against graphic novels too, like I’m cheating and reading a picture book instead of a ‘real’ book. I’ll put this on my list, but it’s so long already….. Are you into finals yet?

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  4. I wanted to read this for the challenge, but the copy at my local library was checked out. I ended up reading three other graphic novels instead! I’d recommend “Marbles” by Ellen Forney and “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant” by Roz Chast. Unlike a previous commenter, I would not recommend Bechdel’s follow-up “Are You My Mother?” unless you are really into psychoanalysis. Maybe I would have appreciated it more if I had already read “Fun Home.”
    The “Maus” books are also excellent. They were my first experience with graphic novels, assigned as part of a Holocaust literature course in college.

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  5. I love graphic novels and memoirs—glad you’ve taken the plunge, too! I recommend you try Persepolis next. I read it in a book club when I lived in New York, and it was a huge hit.

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  6. I’ve heard good things about Bechdel, but I’ve never read anything by her. In fact, I have yet to make it through a graphic novel (but I’ve only tried once or twice). I’m planning to read Volume 1 of Miss Marvel to satisfy this item of the challenge.

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    • I didn’t really have a good reason either, except for that I considered it “cheating,” as if it wasn’t “real” literature. You should give this one a try & see what you think!

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  7. So fun. I rarely think about grabbing a graphic novel, but have recently been reading reviews that make me want to pick them up! I remember going to a book store with a friend after the movie Sin City came out. She asked the clerk if they had a copy of the novel “Sin City”– the clerk said, “Yes! Right here. You do know it is a graphic novel, right?”

    My friend looked slightly offended, “I assumed it might be. The movie was pretty graphic.”

    Bahaha. :)

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  8. I also read Maus, and I didn’t like it all at first. Mostly because I was standing in my own way for enjoying the story itself. But once I sat down and slapped myself around a little bit, I opened up and actually enjoyed the graphic novel. I have some on my Goodreads (I think?) that I’m interested in. It’s not my favorite genre, but it’s good to change it up every now and then.

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  9. O.O Only your first graphic novel? I’d hardly have read anything in college if it weren’t for comics. Embrace them, they are your short-term low-commitment highest-intensity-payoff-per-minutes-invested best friend for life.

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