Allie Brosh is extremely talented, both in her writing and in her at times deceptively simple drawings. I stumbled upon her blog I don’t know how many years ago but never got around to buying her first book (a fact that as of about an hour ago I’ve rectified). Because I haven’t read that and it’s been a while since I’ve looked at her blog, I can’t compare her two books the way some other cannonballers have.
By itself, Solutions and Other Problems is entertaining and a very quick read, though it’s not a comedy. There are parts that are laugh-out-loud funny, and there are parts that are poignant, serious, or even somber. And sometimes there’s a bit of whiplash between these different moods. Yet even when it’s not “fun” because of the topic Brosh is writing about, there are often small moments of humor, typically in the drawings more than the text.
Although the stories/vignettes are not necessarily connected to each other, at least not directly, there are some common themes that allow Brosh’s personality to come through: her creativity, “weirdness,” existential angst, persistence, regrets, and loneliness. I particularly liked the chapter on The Ugly Duckling and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I have long thought that those stories don’t send the best messages to kids, and Brosh’s perspective on those lines up with mine. She instead comes up with a story about an ugly frog that ends in a surprisingly meaningful way and probably not in the way you might be expecting.