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 adolescense, the denouement is swift, graphic — and redemptive.
First off! Fun Home is not fun, okay, it is heart-wrenching and tragic and it’ll probably make you feel like crying. It is also really powerful! And though I don’t usually seek out books about sad things, I can kinda see why people do. Finishing a story so ripe with personal grief feels a bit like climbing a mountain: you’re tired and you feel like crap, but you’re also kinda triumphant.
Fun Home is a memoir of a childhood which was not wacky (my favorite) but still interesting nonetheless. It focuses mostly on Alison Bechdel’s relationship with her father, growing up in a small town, and the aftermath of her father’s death. The tension comes from the push-pull of love and hate for her parents,
Suicide, bipolar disorder, verbal and physical abuse, etc; this is a very heavy book, with almost no happier parts to lighten the mood. For all that it depressed the hell out of me, though, I knew it was important to keep reading. I connected with AB and her family. I wanted to see what happened.
I definitely recommend Fun Home for those of you who enjoy stories about families and secrets, especially if you don’t mind it being a little dark.
Read: July 8-9, 2014