Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh

Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half came out seven years ago. Since then, I’ve been wondering what happened to this delightfully strange woman. Well, Solutions and Other Problems has the answer to my question. Like her first book, this volume contains funny stories from Brosh’s childhood plus more serious chapters that talk about her struggles with her mental and physical health. This book is, by turns funny and poignant and silly. Fans will be happy to have another Brosh book on their shelf. Most of all, I think fans will also be glad to know that Brosh is still surviving.

At the end of Solutions and Other Problems, Brosh talks about her time spent living alone and trying to make friends with her self. She calls herself a pointless little weirdo. But this isn’t the insult that it sounds like. It’s the conclusion that Brosh came to after a lot of loss and heartache. She wonders (a lot) about what it all means and why life is full of unfairness. She also wonders why she does the strange things she does. Often, she concludes that there is no reason for a lot of things. She follows her impulses and can never explain why she does things like crawl through pet doors to spy on her neighbor, try to put her entire three-year-old body in a bucket, or take bizarre revenge on the neighbor who insists on hammering things before 8:00 in the morning.

After a lot of existential torment, Brosh has to come to the conclusion that there isn’t a larger meaning behind a lot of things in life. There’s no reason why her sister died so suddenly or why her own body betrayed her. There’s no reason for most of her strange impulses. And yet…and yet. The fact that there isn’t a reason or a deeper meaning doesn’t mean that the things we might deem pointless don’t have worth. Even pointless little weirdos like Brosh’s inner self deserve love and friendship without sacrificing their uniqueness to conform. It doesn’t matter that we can’t explain why we like things or why we feel things. We don’t have to be articulate and philosophical in the moment if someone asks us to justify ourselves. Being weird is who we are and we, like Brosh, also deserve love and friendship.

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