Title: Hyperbole and a Half
Author: Allie Brosh
Publication Date: October 2013
Series: Stand Alone
Audio or Book: Book
This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*
*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!
Hyperbole and a Half is a collection of comics from Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half website. This collection includes several stories about her dogs, her childhood, and about her struggles with depression. Like many people I discovered Brosh's comic several years ago. Unfortunately, I discovered her comic right when she stopped writing it for a while, because she was struggling with her depression. I am so happy to see that she is doing better and has a book deal.
If you aren't familiar with Brosh's work, you might be taken back a bit by the crude drawing. If you go into this book (or website) and expect artwork like Fiona Staples' work in Saga, you will be sorely disappointed. If I recall correctly, Brosh does her drawing in Microsoft Paint. The art is not fancy nor is it trying to be. The simple art works really well for the stories. Brosh is able to convey emotion through her characters. You can tell when her comic-version self is sad or happy with the use of both the characters facial expressions and dramatic background coloring (see above image). In addition, Brosh does a great job with drawing the characters consistently. The drawings may be crude, but I can always tell who is who.
The art is only half the story. Brosh's stories are what keep me coming back for more. Brosh knows how to write a story and keep the reader in suspense. I wait with baited breath as I read each small paragraph and look at each image in a story, because I am so excited to see where the story is going to take me. Even when I can tell where a story is going, Brosh can still elicit a laugh or tear from me. It is truly amazing what she can do with so few words and images.
Hyperbole and a Half contains several of Brosh's more popular comics. I must admit that I really wanted a copy of this book for her series on depression. She does an excellent job showing what it can be like to suffer from depression. As someone who works with people struggling with mental health issues, I like to have books like this on hand as resources for working with patients and families.
Her stories are not all sad; however, Brosh recounts several stories about her dogs and her childhood. These stories are hilarious. I found myself laughing outloud several times even when I was already familiar with the story. Brosh does a great job of showcasing the child-like innocence of her characters (especially when telling stories from her childhood) but also balancing it with a narrative that recognizes the craziness of her antics.
As you can probably guess, I loved this book so much. I think I need to reread it! I give this book a 5 out of 5.