Alison Bechdel should be on your radar. She might be there already, from her previous book Fun Home, a clever and gothic look at her childhood, or you may have heard of the Bechdel Test for rating films (the movie must have at least two named female characters. Who talk to one another. About something other than a man.)
Fun Home dealt with Bechdel’s father and the title of Are You My Mother? makes it very clear that the focus has shifted to her other parent. The book delves into Bechdel’s complicated and somewhat distant relationship with her mother, a thwarted actor, but also addresses her own romantic relationships and the nature of creativity. The book also covers various elements of psychology, including the author’s academic fascination with the writer Donald Winnicott and her sessions with he own shrink. This sounds very self-involved, but Are You My Mother? is given both depth and lightness by Bechdel’s clean drawings.
The graphic novel format allows the reader to recognise common ground (reading in bed with a lover, a page of a Dr Seuss) very quickly and then take time over Bechdel’s analysis. Don’t let the cartoons fool you, this is an exciting and intelligent book and, at many points, highly moving. It doesn’t just tell Alison’s story, Are You My Mother? allows to you to think about your own.