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On Our Bookshelves:
Hyperbole and a Half

BOOK: Hyperbole and a Half

AUTHOR: Allie Brosh

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2013

REVIEW:

How to describe Hyperbole and a Half for those unfamiliar with Allie Brosh and her work? It’s complicated. She herself describes it, on the cover, as “unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened,” and perhaps that’s as fair a description as any.

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Based on her extremely popular website (launched in 2009 and sadly, currently inactive), which is something between a web comic and a blog, the book contains some (but not all) of her best work from her website, as well as some original material. It’s full of observational humor about her life, her childhood, her dogs, and her struggles with life’s challenges, both big and small.

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It’s extremely funny stuff, for the most part, due, I think, to the combination of the absurdist (and one can assume by its title, slightly exaggerated) stories and the deliberately primitive artwork. Her piece “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving” made me laugh out loud (and few things do). And “This is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult,” describing her life as she whipsaws between mania and lethargy, is all too relatable, whether or not you’re afflicted, as she is, with ADHD.

It’s not all laughs, though. Brosh writes as well about her debilitating depression and suicidal ideation, with great insight and brutal honesty. It’s brilliantly smart and very accessible, although painful to read, and it’s really painful to think of this immensely likable author struggling so much.

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The book is absolutely worth checking out (especially if you’re already an Allie Brosh fan), but I find her style actually works better online.  It’s easier to poke around, scroll up and down, and click on what appeals on a whim, than to read and view her work through in narrative fashion. Start with her “Best of” for the more exuberant and fun posts, and if you like what you see, go on to the darker and more meaningful stuff. It’s all of a piece, really…the human condition, with love, laughter, tears, and bracingly original commentary. And velociraptors. The “Sneaky Hate Spiral” is a good jumping off spot, in my opinion.

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Although there hasn’t been a new blog post since 2013, it appears that Brosh has been quite busy. I sincerely hope that she has been getting the help she needs and that her struggles and burdens have been eased. In the meantime, she has definitely been working…there’s a new book coming out this fall, and I am greatly looking forward to more of her wit and wisdom in Solutions and Other Problems (all new material).

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3.5 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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Image Courtesy of Simon & Schuster