I’m the kind of person who tends to go, “PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY, TAKE ALL OF IT” when I love something and want to support it.
So even though anyone can read most of this book for free on the blog it originated from, I really really REALLY REALLY wanted a physical copy as a broke ass teenager – even if it meant starving for a day.
It was just that good.
(A couple of years later, I lent that copy to a friend and never saw it again. Of course I don’t even remember who I lent it to. But that’s another story.)
For some reason, I suddenly felt compelled to order myself another copy over a decade later. And so this wonderful yellow book winded up in my hands again, and I read it and remembered why my depressed, quirky, awkward teenage self was so incredibly drawn to it.
The funny thing about re-reading books as an adult is that you remember all the feelings you had when you were younger and reading the very same book, and as a natural result of remembering all these feelings you once felt, you involuntarily remember WHY you were feeling these feelings.
Apply that to a book that showcases issues like depression, anxiety and general social ineptitude extremely candidly, and this means that you remember a lot of things your younger self locked away because she probably never wanted to remember them again.
It’s like when you press on a bruise – you kind of forget about it when you’re busy going about your life, but when you remember it’s there, when you press on it, it starts to hurt.
That’s exactly the kind of hurt you feel if you relate to this book, because it’s way too honest about too many things. It presses on your bruises, or at least forces you to remember they’re there.
Don’t get me wrong; this book is fun. And that’s a gross under-exaggeration (is that even a word?), because it’s absolutely HILARIOUS. There’s a reason why it spawned that “EAT ALL THE CAKE/DO ALL THE THINGS” meme.
Most of the book is about demented dogs. Or Allie being insufferable as a kid. Stories about things that happened to her, or stories about things that happened to other people because of her. Those last two were actually lifted off the back of the book.
My point is, the book isn’t a negative read at all. Chapters include “The Simple Dog”, Dinosaur (The Goose Story), “Lost in the Woods”…you get the gist. It’s mostly about silly things; funny stories.
And even when things take a darker turn to the two-part “Depression”, Allie’s straight-talking and ability to highlight the humour in absolutely any situation make the chapters more uncomfortably honest than outright depressing.
But precisely because it’s so honest, the book says things you might think deep down but never acknowledge – let alone say – to the rest of the world.
“I don’t just want to do the right thing. I want to WANT to do the right thing. This might seem like a noble goal to strive for, but I don’t actually care about adhering to morality. It’s more that being aware of not wanting to do the right thing ruins my ability to enjoy doing the right thing after I’m forced into doing it through shame.”
“I’ve always wanted to not give a fuck. While crying helplessly into my pillow for no good reason, I would often fantasize that maybe someday I could be one of those stoic badasses whose emotions are mostly comprised of rock music and not being afraid of things.”
When it comes down to it, my story with this book is one you’ve heard before: I read it, and I felt like I wasn’t alone.
Someone else had gone through that phase of looking for a promising glimmer of a slightly less miserable wasteland; someone else was thinking the same kind of thoughts and feeling the same kind of things.
Except Allie was making them funny.
And anything that’s funny can’t be that bad, can it?
And so I grew up a little less alone in the world, and one day missed a couple of meals to buy this little yellow book off Amazon.