Review: Solutions and Other Problems

Solutions and Other Problems
Published: September 22, 2020
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 was a meditation on grief, unfairness, and how absolutely stupid it all is.

I laughed at the initial chapters (“Richard” especially), but the moment I reached the final sentence of page 197, I stopped and cried and couldn’t pick it up again until the next day. I have never been able to explain in words the difficulties I have had with grief over the loss of a friend a few years ago. Brosh does it here–she speaks the language I couldn’t. That need to explain the loss of a person so special to you and the inability to do so, because the world around you isn’t spinning in that slow, all-encompassing gravity well of pain–Brosh hit it there for me.

Grief is painful and hideous and ultimately so stupid in the way it hurts. Brosh’s skill with words relies on a balance of self-deprecating humor and words of wisdom that aren’t sugarcoated. Namely that the world is unfair, but we’re here and it’s okay to not be okay.

But there is more than grief as a topic here. Brosh, as before in her first book, Hyperbole and a Half, tackles mental illness, anxiety, and just the quirkiness of being a human being among other human beings. I feel with no exaggeration that Brosh is going to be recognized as a crypto-philosopher of our era. Her view of the world is unique, but utterly relatable.

Oh, and the artwork is hilariously perfect. Can’t go wrong with those horses.