Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Posted October 27, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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Solutions and Other Problems

Solutions and Other Problems

by Allie Brosh

Publisher: Gallery Books on September 22, 2020
Genre: Autobiography, Essays, Graphic Novel, Humor, Memoir, Mental Health, Non-Fiction
Target Age Group: Adult, New Adult, Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

For the first time in seven years, Allie Brosh—beloved author and artist of the extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller Hyperbole and a Half—returns with a new collection of comedic, autobiographical, and illustrated essays.

Solutions and Other Problems includes humorous stories from Allie Brosh’s childhood; the adventures of her very bad animals; merciless dissection of her own character flaws; incisive essays on grief, loneliness, and powerlessness; as well as reflections on the absurdity of modern life.

 

This book delivered.

When you’ve been waiting to read a book for seven years, you have a certain level of expectations for the content it’s going to deliver.  In the case of Solutions and Other Problems, I had one requirement: this book needs to make me laugh out loud.  Very few books do that for me – off the top of my head, I only think of Lamb and Allie’s first book, Hyperbole and a Half.  But it did.

Not only did Solutions and Other Problems make me laugh out loud, it made me cry tears of laughter.  And considering the fact that I was not in a great place when I was reading it and therefore not inclined to be mirthful, this is an accomplishment.  I needed this book, I needed this book in 2020, and it delivered.

The content itself resembles Hyperbole and a Half in that it’s still stories of Allie’s life, still funny but also weird and sometimes sad.  I think Solutions and Other Problems is perhaps a bit more sad than anything else she’s written.  You can tell Allie’s grown up a bit and learned new things and changed as a person in some ways.  I think the “weird” bits are what makes me laugh the most (I have an awkward sense of humor and a lot of people look at me sideways like “are you okay?”)  This one isn’t as light as Hyperbole, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as good.  I was a bit worried about that in the beginning with some of the more serious-toned stories, but she ultimately hooked me.

And the serious stories are well placed among the ridiculous ones.  There’s good flow between them, so between Allie and her editor, the arrangement is good.  I think I liked the variety because it made he ridiculous ones pop a bit more, but also let her share some of her truths.  Because I haven’t stopped loving Allie’s work since 2010 when I was first introduced, I’ve followed her (or tried to, rather) on social media and I know she’s had quite a few truly horrible years, so the sad stories woven in are good, actually.  they’re authentic.  Vulnerable.  Very cool in that way, for her to put herself out there to her readership like that.

There is a lot of art in this book, I think more like her previous book, and while her style is more or less the same, it’s cleaner and more refined.  She’s definitely not drawing in Microsoft Paint anymore (Procreate, maybe?).  I like that she didn’t evolve too much, and somehow the facial expressions are still on point, but I did notice that the drawing are a bit smoother.  I think Allie’s drawing style goes so well with her storytelling style – it’s colorful and a little absurd, but just down-to-the-bones perfect.

My only criticism of this book – and Hyperbole and a Half, too, if I’m being honest – is that she uses some ableist language.  Off the top of my head in Solutions, there was one word near the end.  I looked at it and went “THAT was completely unnecessary:”.  I know where it comes from (like I discussed in my “do better” post, albeit language was unfortunately part of the slang for early millennials) and while I am not excusing her from it, I do not believe it is intended to harm or indicative that she herself is ableist.  It’s sad that neither herself nor her editor flagged it, but here we are.

Other subjects of note that come up are drug-use, death, and animal death.

She shines in Solutions in stories about interactions with other people.  The girl-next-door story is painfully relatable.  The grocery store clerk story was almost impossible for me to get through, I was laughing so hard.  And the very last story in the book – about befriending herself – is a gem.  Memoirs have good and bad in them, and in many ways, I consider Solutions and Other Problems a graphic comedy memoir… I guess?  Is that a genre?

love her work, flaws and all (but it is important to recognize that there are flaws).  That said, it’s easier to recommend individual stories over the book as a whole, because it covers such a wide range of topics and if you don’t like Allie’s sense of humor, this probably won’t work for you.  Her piece “Richard“, which she published on her blog as a preview, is a good test of whether or not you’ll find the book funny or just strange and disturbing.

I did like it though.  A lot.  For me.  I’d recommend it, but cautiously, depending on sense of humor.

Ratings Breakdown

Writing: ★★★★★
Subject: ★★★★
Art: ★★★★★
Delivery: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★

4.5 stars overall rating

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SOlutions and Other Problems Stays on the SHelf

Any book that makes me laugh so hard I cannot function has a place on my bookshelf.

This is a book I’ll come back to when I’m having a bad day.  When I need to just step back from the world and remember there are other weird people out there and they have bad days and we all have each other in this strange world and that everything is going to be okay.  Unless my sense of humor changes drastically, this is a book I’ll come back to again and again and again.

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Was anyone else out there waiting for this book for years?  In this day and age, it’s so weird when someone goes off the grid, even though we don’t actually have a right to their time or knowing anything about their lives… have you experienced this with another author perhaps?  Let me know in the comments!

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