This is a graphic novel memoir. Alison Bechdel’s father was a hands-off sort of person, the type of dad who favored his restoration furniture over his kids. He was also a closet homosexual who had multiple affairs (sometimes with teenage boys) kept hidden from everyone in his family except his wife. He loved literature and house restoration and girly things like flowers and barrettes. Alison assumed a masculinity her dad didn’t have, and eventually decided she’s a lesbian. After she announces this at home, her mother tells her about her father’s affairs.
The book was written after Alison’s father’s death. Alison conjectures that the death was suicide, though it’s officially considered an accident. Her coping process is strange and felt incomplete.
Actually, the whole book felt strange and incomplete to me. I felt like there needed to be so much more. Instead, it fell flat. I didn’t grow by reading this book. I didn’t feel like I learned anything at all. And I was rubbed a little wrong by the implications that 1) Dad was gay because he was molested as a child, 2) Dad was a pedophile because he was gay, and 3) Alison was gay because her dad was effeminate. Those sorts of things really irk me, and if this was fiction, I’d blast it to bits. It’s nonfiction though; these things actually happened, and I don’t fault the author for them, so I won’t blast it to bits. All the same, I’m a little uncomfortable with the suppositions put forth, none of which I believe.
I wanted to like this book. The artwork was amazing, though I didn’t like the monochromatic aquamarine coloring, and it was extremely graphic at times. I’m glad I read this when my kids weren’t home, and I’m a little anxious to get it back to the library so they don’t wander by, pick it up, and look through it because it’s full of pictures. There are too many naked scenes in there for me to feel comfortable with when the kids are around. They didn’t bother me on a personal level, given the subject matter, but my kids have wandering hands. I wouldn’t want to own this book.
I tried to go back and read this book again before reviewing it. I read it in the late night/early morning hours of the Read-a-thon, right when I was starting to get tired. (The coloring didn’t help.) I thought maybe I’d missed something in my fatigue. But when I tried to reread it, I just wasn’t that interested. I got through a few pages and gave up. I think once through was enough for me.
It wasn’t a bad book. It was very easy to read, it drew intense emotions, but in the end, I just wasn’t satisfied.