Fun Home 

Alison Bechdel

Lion Forge, 2019

Plot Summary

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the "Fun Home." It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.


  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution (“Best graphic novels of 2006.” 10 Dec. 2006): “The writing shines throughout. The circling, non-chronological story line never goes slack, and Bechdel's own character is as charming as her mercurial father is morbidly fascinating. The narrative voice is erudite, ironic, funny and, in the end, powerfully moving. Sharp visual storytelling”

  • Booklist (15 Mar. 2006. Starred review): “Fun Home is one of the very best graphic novels ever … YA/M: The very few incidental sex scenes are lesbian and nonprurient; meanwhile, the family story rings utterly and movingly true.”

  • Boston Globe (30 July 2006): “Alison Bechdel's ‘Fun Home’ is a brilliant and bittersweet graphic memoir that chronicles the author's relationship with her formidably troubled father, Bruce … ‘Fun Home’ is Bechdel's first graphic memoir, and it will probably be compared with Marjane Satrapi's excellent ‘Persepolis.’ Both tell the story of a young girl coming of age, and both writers are master storytellers. But where Satrapi dealt with the ways in which history and world politics affected her life in Tehran and Vienna, Bechdel focuses on her father's circumscribed life.”

  • Entertainment Weekly (2 June 2006): “More than the witty art, more than the mordant prose, it is this openness that distinguishes Bechdel's generous and intelligent work. Unlike so many memoirs, this one never tries to set the record straight, and while Fun Home takes only a couple of hours to read, it has a depth and sweetness few can match at five times the length.”

  • Globe and Mail (Toronto) (17 June 2006): “In black and white panels with green wash, wryly observed non-linear episodes explore their unique father-daughter dynamic, deftly combining pop culture touchstones with haute literary allusions, alternately mixing references to Greek mythology, Camus and Leopold Bloom with memories of Earth Shoe boxes. Fun Home will inevitably invite comparison to Persepolis , but it is in fact more complex and nuanced, emotionally, narratively and artistically.”

  • Guardian (London) (21 Oct. 2006): “The vignettes are written with a compact elegance. Bechdel makes good use of the tricky layout of the graphic novel. There's not a lot of space for words but she knows exactly which ones fit best. The amount of emotion that passes over the faces in her muted pictures is stunning, as are the details that hint at her father's double existence, from the bronzing stick he uses on his face to the titles of the books he holds. Bechdel avoids the self-indulgence of most memoirs and the inarticulate plot advancement of most graphic novels. The result is truly unique.”

  • Kirkus (1 Mar. 2006. Starred review): “Bechdel's memoir offers a graphic narrative of uncommon richness, depth, literary resonance and psychological complexity … The results are painfully honest, occasionally funny and penetratingly insightful. Feminists, lesbians and fans of underground comics will enthusiastically embrace this major advance in Bechdel's work, which should significantly extend both her renown and her readership. Though this will likely be stocked with graphic novels, it shares as much in spirit with the work of Mary Karr, Tobias Wolff and other contemporary memoirists of considerable literary accomplishment.”

  • Lambda Book Report (Spring 2006): “It is an intimate look at the underpinnings of a family, and especially of a lesbian daughter's relationship to her complicated father. Unique, troubling, poignant and extraordinarily literary, the book explores their father-daughter relationship through parallels of plots and characterization in some of the world's great novels, which become the primary medium through which the two are able to communicate … Artistically, the work is pure Bechdel, with easily memorable images and characters, and shading that lends depth to the individual frames and which imply a shadow self that is as much a part of the story as the storyline itself, for this was a family shaded by terrible secrets. The precision of the work comes from her ability to create instantly identifiable characters who grapple with the routines and extremes of daily life … As fiction, the story line would be unpalatable and less than believable. As truth, it is simply a painfully real testament to one family's life.”

  • Library Journal (1 Feb. 2012): “Bechdel … has produced a brilliant memoir of her childhood with her closeted gay father. She describes the triumphs and many tragedies of growing up with a grace and intimacy that draws the reader in immediately. Her use of her childhood diaries, writings, and illustrations make this almost an archival work of her family's story and reveals the emotional torment Bechdel endured.”

  • Library Journal (1 July 2006): “[W]ith Fun Home, the artist draws her own story, also poignant, funny, and certainly real-life absurd. … why did her parents hate each other? Why was father so histrionic and mother so distant? As she untangles these mysteries, Bechdel skillfully pivots the tale in repeat takes around her father's perhaps-suicide. Gradually the secret is revealed, partly in metaphors of literature that brought daughter and father--now revealed as closeted gay--together at last before his death. Highly recommended … With mature themes plus some nudity and sex; for older teens and adults.”

  • Library Journal (“Coming Out in Print.” 1 May 2007): “Having kept a journal from a young age, Bechdel is able to reconstruct her quiet struggles with identity and family. The result of herself-documentation is this hauntingly illustrated story that is both powerful and tragically honest.”

  • Los Angeles Times (4 June 2006): “Sometimes, words and pictures aren't enough. And yet, this is where the graphic novel format truly pays off … As much as she isn't sure of what she's seeing, Bechdel's great care in documenting the female coming-of-age experience is radical, even groundbreaking … with the gorgeous writing and stunning drawings in tandem. Fun Home is an intricate document of a childhood that, ultimately, was enough like mine -- only with a few more literary references -- that for me, it worked.”

  • Madison Capital Times (“Good Year for Books.” 12 Dec. 2006): “With painfully true emotional moments wrapped around references to the literature that was the main bond between father and daughter, Bechdel elevates the memoir genre, honoring her father by revealing the secrets he worked a lifetime to conceal.”

  • New York Times (26 June 2006): “Alison Bechdel's 'Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic’' is an engrossing memoir that does the graphic novel format proud. The tale -- about Ms. Bechdel's childhood, her father's death and their shared homosexuality -- is painfully honest and richly detailed in words and images … Throughout the memoir, but most especially here, the magic of the graphic format emerges. Ms. Bechdel's qualms, trepidation and excitement emerge from the words and images working together. Somehow adding the two ingredients together conveys more than either one could do alone.”

  • New York Times Book Review (18 June 2006): “Very few cartoonists can also write … But Fun Home quietly succeeds in telling a story, not only through well-crafted images but through words that are equally revealing and well chosen … A comic book for lovers of words! Bechdel’s rich language and precise images combine to create a lush piece of work -- a memoir where concision and detail are melded for maximum, obsessive density … The artist’s work is so absorbing you feel you are living in her world.”

  • Publisher’s Weekly (27 Feb. 2006. Starred review): “Bechdel presents her childhood as a ‘still life with children’ that her father created, and meditates on how prolonged untruth can become its own reality. She's made a story that's quiet, dignified and not easy to put down.”

USA Today (30 May 2006): “... Fun Home is an astonishing advertisement for this emerging literary form … Bechdel evokes deep compassion in the reader for all the members of her family with her spare words and gray-green drawings.”




Book Resume created by New Jersey Association of School Libraries and PDSAL