Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 2014, I came across Allie Brosh’s first book “Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened”. Apart from funny stories from Allie’s life, it contained the story of her experiences with depression.

Reading about that in what amounts to a crude comic was a singular experience for me – despite suffering from depressions myself at the time.

Soon after I had read “Hyperbole”, Allie disappeared from the net. We, her fans, hoped she was well but we rarely got any (reliable) information.

Six years later, in September 2020, Allie “resurfaced” and announced her new book “Solutions and Other Problems”. Needless to say, I immediately read it – and initially, I was very slightly disappointed.

Allie still did her quirky, charming, weird comic – about a balloon, her stalking her neighbour as a kid and other issues. These panels in the first few chapters feel like Allie had to find her way back to her style. Like regaining her voice after a long spell of silence.
She’s “warming up” and, obvious in hindsight only, paints and writes up her courage to tackle what Allie calls “the serious part” and this is the part that just plain floored me.

I won’t go into any kind of detail but what Allie went through is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (the number of which is zero, though).

What follows is both a great feat of celebrating life and at the same time the panels in the “serious part” are basically oozing existential pain and hardly endurable loss.
Many pages just consist of comic panels without any text. It’s as if Allie temporarily lost her voice again and this makes it all the more intense. Especially since she is unrelentingly honest and authentic. Allie depicts her losses, her regrets just as believably as in showing us how she overcame them.

It was the first time I ever cried over a comic.

Allie Brosh wouldn’t be Allie Brosh, though, if she didn’t pick herself up, “reassembling” herself and moving on with life. For me, that is the most important lesson of both “Hyperbole and a Half” and “Solutions”: In spite of seemingly insurmountable, almost unsurvivable issues, life goes on.

From laugh-out-loud funny (“pile dog”) to stirringly human (befriending herself), Allie Brosh is an icon of hope. I wish her all the best and hope to get to read more of her brilliant comics.

Even if not, though, she’s hereby inducted into my personal hall of fame and unlikely heroes!

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