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Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother?

A Comic Drama

Graphic Novel - 2012
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From the best-selling author of Fun Home , Time magazine's No. 1 Book of the Year, a brilliantly told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be.

Alison Bechdel's Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It's a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel's own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother--to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
ISBN: 9780544002234
Branch Call Number: 741.5973 B3872B 2012
Characteristics: 286 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Depicts the author's mother as a voracious reader, music lover, and passionate amateur actress who quietly suffers as the wife of a closeted gay artist and withdraws from her young daughter, who searches for answers to the separation later in life. (Novelist)

In this follow-up to her acclaimed graphic memoir Fun Home, cartoonist Alison Bechdel explores her fraught relationship with her mother.

Lesbian cartoonist Bechdel examines her fraught relationship with her aloof mother, as well as her life in therapy, in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Fun Home.

From the critics

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Mar 13, 2021

I can definitely appreciate this memoir by Alison Bechdel.. but seeing as I don't buy into psychologist Donald Winnicott's theories, I can't relate well to Ms. Bechdel's psychological insights.

Dec 23, 2018

Not comedy, though it has funny moments. It's a book for the academically inclined. The artistic graphic "comic" works extremely well for the complicated story the author relates. It is an extremely personal depiction of the author's relationship with her parents and therapists as she processes childhood issues. Freudian, Jungian, and literary analysis ensues. The work is interlaced with quotes from Virginia Wolfe and and early Freudians. If you are not analytical or academic, you won't enjoy this book. VERY creative & effective use of this graphic medium. Don't limit it as just "LGBT" writing. Universal themes of roles, parents and coming to terms with how parents really are. Sophisticated, philosophical, and personal.

SCL_Justin Jul 25, 2017

Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama is Alison Bechdel’s memoir about her relationship with her mother and her therapists and about writing Fun Home. Because it’s about writing the previous book and how much her mother didn’t like that she’d written it, but also about psychoanalysis, it feels more like a meta-book.

She writes and draws a lot about feeling self-conscious, and transcribes so many bits about writing memoir that it feels more like an essay than a story. Which isn’t a bad thing. It makes me want to read her sources.

One of the things I really like about both of these Bechdel books is how she draws the pages from the things she’s reading. She draws the typewriter font and highlights the interesting text, but leaves the surrounding bits in there for context. She also has people’s letters and her drawings of photographs. This whole layer of drawing and selecting as construction fascinates the hell out of me.

I don’t think I found this one as compelling as Fun Home because the relationship between Bechdel and her mother is ongoing. It’s harder to make it all fit into a book. In any nonfiction you’re making arbitrary endpoints but it’s always easier when you’ve got something natural like a death to crystallize around. In Are You My Mother? there isn’t that one thing, which seems to make it a harder book to create. So in some ways the book becomes about how hard it is to make itself. Which some people might not enjoy, but I did.

May 17, 2017

I liked Fun Home a bit better, but I still enjoyed this thoughtful exploration of the author's mother and how their connection played out in other parts of her life.

Jun 10, 2016

A clever introduction to psychoanalysis and a brave exploration of the author's own relationship with her mother.

Chapel_Hill_MollyL Oct 08, 2015

Bechdel's second graphic novel memoir focuses in on her relationship with her mother and her years in therapy. She writes in a wonderful, self-reflexive and analytic style, and the work is full of masterful drawing and interesting literary references. But I am not crazy about all of the retelling of dreams and the deep dives into slights the author experienced as a child. The book feels a bit tortured in its writing, especially when Bechdel writes about how tortured she is in her writing. But if you loved Fun Home (as I did), you may still find this to be a satisfying read.

Sep 14, 2014

I didn't love this book. There was too much focus on psychoanalyst Winnicott and author Virginia Wolfe. I wasn't overly interested in the history of these two people.

Every chapter started with a dream sequence, then Bechdel would recount pieces of her personal life with her mother, psychiatrist and girlfriends over the years.

The story felt too choppy to me, with Bechdel continuously dividing her time between all of these different focuses.

Jul 12, 2014

A few days after reading Fun Home (by the same author), I randomly found this book at the library, and checked it out. This is the perfect followup to Fun Home. It was well researched, beautifully drawn, and remarkably easy to understand, despite the nonlinear storytelling style. Alison's journey through depression, relationships, her own emotions, and most of all, her relationship with her mother is a thought provoking ride for any reader. I found it very relatable personally, and I suspect many people would, whatever their background.

Jul 04, 2014

I like the style, artwork, and tone, but the story gets a bit too introspective/self analytic for me. I couldn't finish it.

BCD2013 May 12, 2014

NYPL Staff Pick
A cartoonist explores why the intersection of her mother’s life, her own psyche, and her relationship with her mother make her the person she is.
- Selection Team

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Jul 26, 2019

l_crockford75 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Dec 23, 2018

LearningEveryDay thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

brihawkins13 May 16, 2018

brihawkins13 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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