Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

When I first read and reviewed an ARC of HYPERBOLE AND A HALF in 2013, I wasn't in the best place, and reading this book was like shining a light on all the bad parts of myself that made me feel shitty but that I didn't fully understand. It was the first time I really felt seen and understood. Like, "This is how it is and it's shit but here's a funny picture to make you feel better." It wasn't condescending because Brosh really did understand, but it wasn't as depressing as it could have been because funny picture! It ended up being exactly the book I needed when I was feeling unhappy and isolated, because it showed me that I wasn't alone, so if you're feeling depressed and alone, pick up this book.

HYPERBOLE AND A HALF isn't fancily illustrated but that is just another aspect of its charm. The drawings compliment Brosh's simple and yet quirky narrative perfectly as she talks about her depression, her childhood memories, her dogs, and so much more. It's the perfect blend of humor and serious. Some of the topics in here are very dark (i.e. suicide), but Brosh doesn't write about it in a disturbing or upsetting way. Her matter-of-fact nature, combined with the funny drawings, make her hard truths shockingly easy to consume.

And for every deep and tragic moment, there are five funny ones. Everything about her dogs-- Simple Dog and Helper Dog-- is gold. The story about the annoying parrot toy she and her sister trolled their parents with was also gold, and any kid or parent will be able to relate. The story about how she and her husband were tormented by a goose had me laughing my ass off-- especially because of the actual photos she posted at the end as "proof." And then there's this hilarious anecdote involving a cake and childhood determination that is pure win. If you have seen the "all the things" meme, then you're at least peripherally familiar with Allie's work, as that came from a panel about depression.

This is one of the most honest, personal memoirs I've ever read. There were many passages in here that felt as if they could have been written by me. It seems like Brosh has kind of disappeared off the radar in recent years and I hope that she's doing well. Her bio in the back of the book said that she's a "recluse," so I like the idea of her just chilling out in a cabin home, with Simple Dog and Helper Dog, trying not to have too much fear over the local geese. People are overrated, anyway.

In the meantime, read this book. It's a must.

5 out of 5 stars

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