Read or Die

Review of Allie Brosh’s HYPERBOLE AND A HALF

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Within the first few pages, I was confident that Ms. Brosh and I could sit down, enjoy a warm beverage, and become fast friends. Her sense of humor and twisted mind run parallel to mine (and it goes without saying that her art skills are at least two levels above mine). I was stifling my laughter so as not to disturb my sleeping husband and wiping away tears almost immediately. The connection to the illustrated essays was so visceral and impactful, and I probably stayed up later than I should have that first night because of how engaged I was with the stories from her life.

Reaching the moments where she discussed her depression didn’t lessen things for me. I understood each moment and felt that kindred bond cement itself. No, those two essays weren’t humorous. They weren’t intended to be. It was an actual peeling back of the mask that enshrouds the disease, and I applaud her for depicting it in all its grittiness. I wanted it blown into a poster or made into a video to display to the rest of the world, proclaiming, “Someone else gets it!”

The collection was a perfect balance between the human mind and the ridiculous. I wish the final essays had resounded stronger. They drifted away from me, and I became more detached from Ms. Brosh and her messaging. While still reading true (and the dog essay was mildly humorous, being the owner of a dog with a lima bean for a brain), there was just an element of emotional impact lacking. The book didn’t land on the “oomph” I was hoping for or even close on a raucous note of sheer hysteria. Instead, it petered out into the background, which left me feeling lackluster. Some rearranging of the order of the essays could have helped tremendously with this.

All told, still a fantastic book. And I’m glad I picked it up.

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