Books : reviews

Allie Brosh.
Hyperbole and a Half: unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened.
Square Peg. 2013

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 17 December 2013

Hyperbole and a Half is a blog by twenty-something American, Allie Brosh. Her debut book – half new stories, half favourites from the blog – chronicles her ‘learning experiences’ and character flaws. It includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; owning a mentally challenged dog; and a moving comic account of her struggles with depression.

I’ve been following Allie Brosh’s blog for a while now, so when I saw the book version, I snapped it up.

I’ve tagged this “autobiography/humour”, but feel a bit uncomfortable doing so. How much is really autobiography (despite the photographic evidence of the goose)? And how much is really humorous, especially given the depression chapters?

Nevertheless, the manic drawings and deadpan text combine to give a truly unique view into someone’s life: the childhood traumas and mayhem (getting lost in the woods, having a tooth out before a party, the dinosaur costume, and more), the maladjusted simple dog and helper dog; the coping strategies for not actually being a nice person on the inside (here I feel the need to reassure: you may not be able to help what you are, but you can control what you do, and that’s what counts); and the experiences with depression.

Like the blog, this should be read an episode at a time, with gaps in between, rather than gulped in a single setting. Recommended.