Allison’s family is not really a family in the traditional sense. She outright states in the beginning of the graphic novel that “[it’s] tempting to suggest, in retrospect, that our family was a sham. That our house was not a real home at all but the simulacrum of one, a museum” (17). And adding to that in Chapter 5 of the graphic novel, Allison provides us with an even deeper insight into just how exactly her family is not really a family in the traditional sense. We learn that they never actually are truly together as a family. As seen when we are given a clear picture of just how Allison’s family is really like during this time, as she puts it, “[their] home was like an artists’ colony, we ate together but otherwise absorbed in [their] separate pursuits” (134).
Just like how David’s relationship with his father in Giovanni’s Room was more like a friendship than a relationship between two family members, Allison’s family is not like a “family” in the sense that while they may be living in the same household they are never really considered a family because of the fact that they are isolated from each other.
I find it interesting that after talking about her family situation Allison then begins to tell us of her obsessive compulsive disorder and how it began. In the chapter, we learn of how it first began just as her not being able to let the bath tub drip on an odd number and how her shoes had to line up perfectly so she did not favor on over the other. Eventually, in the chapter, it develops into her not even being able to write in her diary without including the words “I [think]” simply because of the fact that she did not know if what she was writing was even the truth and did not want to be wrong about it. Maybe she is proposing that this situation with her family is what caused her OCD? Or is there something more to it? Just as how David’s relationship shaped him and partly made him who he was, maybe the same applies for Allison and her relationship with her family not only in the context of her OCD, but her as a person overall?
1. Do you think the onset of Allison’s OCD was caused by her not being able to accept the world around her?
2. There are instances that might suggest so, but do you believe her Father had OCD, as well?