Monday, February 13, 2017

Review of "Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened" by Allie Brosh




"Hyperbole and a Half" is culled (in part) from Allie Brosh's very popular blog. I hadn't heard of the author until I read laudatory comments about this book on Goodreads, and I'm glad I decided to read it. The entries about Allie's life - rendered as cartoon drawings with captions and anecdotes - are funny, relatable, and touching.

The book opens with a letter Allie wrote to her future self when whe was ten. The letter - which is actually a series of questions to her older self (Do you still like dogs? What is your favorite dog?...) - shows that Allie's childhood priorities were: dogs, dogs, dogs, Murphy the dog, favorite foods, and her parents' longevity.

Some of my favorite sections are about Allie's 'simple dog' (mentally challenged) - who can't learn to walk up or down steps; is unable to escape from a small blanket loosely thrown over her; can't find a treat she sees being placed under a plastic cup; won't stop eating stinging bees; is paralyzed by fear of snow; and so on. At one point Allie decides to adopt a 'helper dog' to assist the simple one....and the new pooch constantly scream-barks at other dogs and misbehaves 24/7. Examples of what these two dogs get up to are hilarious.

Another very entertaining chapter is about little Allie - aged 4 - obsessively stalking her grandfather's birthday cake. Allie's mom does her best to keep the cake safe....to no avail. The child eats the whole cake and suffers the alimentary consequences. Young Allie's digestive system undergoes more assaults after she (accidently) eats food slathered in hot sauce. Allie's parents view the youngster's ability to eat hot food as a talent.....to be trotted out for friends and relatives. Oh....the suffering...

As a child, Allie got up to all sorts of mischief. When given a toy parrot that repeats spoken phrases, Allie (and her sister) used it to torture their parents. They taught the bird to make irritating noises and say "poop poop poop poop poop poop....." Of course the bird disappeared one day. Allie also relates a story about wanting to go to a friend's birthday party despite being disoriented/unable to talk after dental anesthesia. Allie's attempts to convince her mom she's 'okay to go' are very funny.

The more serious chapters of the book deal with Allie's depression, her difficulties motivating herself to do things, and her secret 'mean' thoughts. I think most people can relate.

Some chapters are better than others, but the book is a quick read - with fun illustrations - and well worth the effort. Highly recommended.


Rating: 3.5 stars

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