Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
If you like: MS Paint * laughing * exploration of self
Hyperbole and a Half is a collection of stories and drawings by Allie Brosh, including both new material and favorites from HyperboleandaHalf.blogspot.com. Fans of the site will enjoy revisiting some of their favorites, and reading others for the first time. The uninitiated will find a unique method of storytelling involving brutal honesty combined with simple yet amazing comic panels. Brosh revisits her childhood, and embraces the pains of adulthood. She also tells stories of her two dogs, Simple Dog and Helper Dog, which are impossible not to enjoy.
So many times stories of youth are portrayed with the glowing halo of the good times that are long since passed — this is not the case with Hyperbole and a Half. Though the cheery colors and graphic style of the comics provided a youthful feel to the entire book, Brosh looks back on her childhood with the skepticism of an adult. Child-Allie is a separate character from Adult-Allie. The anecdotes are not provided with reverence, but instead with a holy-crap-can-you-believe-I-did-this-shit? attitude. This tone makes the stories all the more enjoyable. We all have unbelievable moments from our childhoods, things that seem unimaginable looking back, but it is the rare few that can convey them in such a hilarious and vivid way.
The humor of the adult-centered chapters takes a darker turn. Nothing can beat the pure joy of Simple Dog, but Brosh does not leave the story there. Her comic style allows her to explore the depths of depression, or the realities of her personality in an enlightened way. Reading about her struggles with depression are heartbreaking. Though it is not a comical subject, Brosh manages to find the humor in her own desperate moments, and her brutal honesty about her own pain and the difficulty of breaking out of it will be comfortably familiar to many readers. Even greater than her battle with depression is her battle with her own self-perception. Everyone likes to believe the best of themselves. Brosh discovers that what we believe is not always what we know. She digs into her own self and shares what she finds with her readers. It is in theses moments that we find the place where the Adult-Allie and Child-Allie meet. The way she is willing to share this secret part of herself, and make it comical instead of confessional is refreshing in an age of insincere apologies and repeated indiscretions. The mixture of dark and light in Hyperbole provide the perfect pairing of entertainment and reflection. Broken up in colorful chapters, it is difficult not to keep going through the rainbow.
If you want to laugh until you cry, read Hyperbole and a Half.
Brosh, Allie. Hyperbole and a Half. Touchstone, 2013.