Fun Home: A Reflection on Family

The first time I ever heard about Fun Home was in reference to the Broadway musical when I was last in New York City visiting my brother. And though we were never able to win lottery tickets to go see it over the summer for an affordable price, we still plan on going to see it at some point in the future. But that aside, I was more than happy to discover that we would be exploring the graphic novel Fun Home at the beginning of this semester, which I admit was partially due to this recent exposure.

When I saw Fun Home listed on the syllabus for this course I was surprised to discover that the musical was based off a graphic novel and not a typical novel. However, now after reading a few chapters of Fun Home it reads much like a novel would in a lot of ways. And unlike some graphic novels that rely more heavily on imaginary, Fun Home is full of quiet a bit of text as well. The only other thing I knew about Fun Home before I started reading it was that the plot heavily focused on family.

This quickly caught my interest, as I grew up in a family with three other siblings, which subsequently made family one of the major focuses within my life. Ever since I entered college and got exposed to psychology while simultaneously coming into contact with people who originated from completely different backgrounds, I have been endlessly fascinated with differing dynamics within a family unit. As the youngest, there were things I experienced and endured during my childhood that a close friend of mine, who happened to be an only child, could not fathom. I often find that I quickly get along with people my age who come from larger families as opposed to those who had no siblings growing up.

Along with the impact all my siblings had on me, in various intensities, my parents obviously also played a role in my upbringing. There were many times through the first few chapters of Fun Home that I could relate, sometimes more than I wanted to admit, to Alison’s struggles with her father. Just like Alison, I often found that my best was never quite good enough in the eyes of my father. As a bright mechanical engineer as well as an accomplished entrepreneur, my father set the bar fairly high when it came to life goals he expected his children to achieve. Of course these expectations were never spoken aloud, though the burden they created was just as heavy as if they had been, if not heavier. My father is a bit of a perfectionist and sometimes it seemed that having something done perfectly outweighed the significance of helping him complete a task to begin with.

As a child, I remember being forever frustrated that I could never amount to what he wanted and I still find myself occasionally seeking his approval from time to time. In contrast, there are a lot of things I really admire about my father and I realize that just like me he is human and therefore has flaws. But I can still, to this day, see the impact his perfectionism had on all my siblings as well as myself, which makes me truly empathize with Alison, the protagonist of Fun Home, whose father seemed to view parenthood as a truly inconvenient chore.