Book Review: Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded, by Hannah Hart
Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded, by Hannah Hart is a heartfelt, funny, and emotional memoir from YouTube’s creator of My Drunk Kitchen:
Hannah Hart, wildly popular YouTube personality and author of the New York Times bestseller My Drunk Kitchen, is stirring up tales from her past with a collection of narrative essays about family, faith, love, sexuality, self-worth, friendship and fame.
Hello, my darlings! I am incredibly pleased to present Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded!
As a big fan of memoirs, I wanted to try my hand at writing about the events of my life that deserve a little more consideration than can be accomplished in 140-characters or a 6-minute vlog. Now on the cusp of turning 30, I’m ready to expose some parts of my life that I haven’t shared before. Before, it was all about privacy, process and time. And now the time has come! I’m ready to put myself out there, for you.
I’m a little nervous about all these vulnerable words going into the world, these tales about my love life, the wrestling I’ve done with faith, how I feel about sex and my family and myself. I’ve had a lot of trials, a lot of errors, but also a lot of passion. Here’s the thing–I’ve always found comfort in the stories shared by others, so I hope my stories, now that I feel ready to tell them, will bring you some comfort too.
And when you read this book please remember: Buffering is just the time it takes to process.
Memoirs are tricky to review given their extremely personal nature, and memoirs aren’t something I often read as they have a tendency to speak to some traumatic experiences of the author and leave me feeling down after finishing them. Buffering didn’t disappoint, though! Despite talking about heavy topics, the book always had a cheery tone about it. Hart has such a strong personality that it translates directly into her narrative voice. If you’ve watched any of Hart’s YouTube channel, you immediately recognize her pun-tastic wit and slight self-inflation (which is done for comedic effect and never in a serious manner).
This memoir is different than many I’ve read because a lot of the content that Hart talks about is influenced by passages directly from her journals that she’s kept throughout her life. There are pictures of her journals and her handwriting and doodles that are then translated in the text of the book, as Hart’s penmanship can be a bit hard to read:
These journal entries that she chooses to use help illustrate the emotional impact of how she was feeling in the moment that the narrative is currently talking about. Not only that, it helps guide the narrative plot and create the themes in which the chapters are built around. These journal entries created a cohesiveness through the individual stories shared and helped the transition from one chapter to the next.
The tone for the book is set by a wonderful foreword written by Jenny Lawson:
“[…] The point is that Hannah is amazing and also that I don’t know what goes into a foreword. It sounds like a mix of “foreplay” and “words,” and I think that equals “sexting,” I guess? Seems a bit weird, but I am a true friend, so here goes: 8 #amIright? (8 = sideways boobies. I think? This is my first time sexting. Sorry. It’s embarrassing for all of us.)
“Turns out I’m not good at phone sex or forewords. Hang on. Let me research what a foreword is so I have a better idea of what goes here.
“Okay. I’m back. According to the Internet, a foreword deals with “the purpose, limitations, and scope of the book and may include acknowledgments of indebtedness.” Got it. Ignore the boobies I gave you a minute ago. I’m taking back my boobies. Let’s start over.
“When Hannah asked me to write this foreword, I said yes, but hesitantly, because I’ve been in a depression that’s been holding on to my life for the last few months. I’ve started writing it several times and always erased it because my broken head hates everything about me right now. But Hannah sees past that. She sees the truth and she sees things I need to be reminded of. Like the fact that depression lies. Or that I am worthy. Or that I’ll still be her friend even if I never finish writing this.” (Buffering Foreward, ix-x)
That’s not the entire foreword, but it’s enough to show the reader that the book will be full of laughter and heavier topics as it starts starts the reader laughing before diving into the topic of depression. This combination of laughter leading in or out of difficult topics is what makes this book enjoyable to read without rendering the reader into a funk of their own, as many memoirs do with the nature of their content.
Hart, in my opinion, does a really smart thing after the foreword by renaming the introduction “Trigger Warning” because the memoir tackles some pretty heavy stuff (parent with schizophrenia, sexuality, questions of faith, drugs, self-harm, and more). I feel that if more memoirs did something along this line, it would help prep the reader for the content they’re about the read.
Despite the heaviness of the subject matter, the tone is always light or brought back into humor through Hart’s extremely personable narrative voice. The stories depicted throughout the book are honest, heartbreaking, but never devoid of hope or some sort of life lesson. The reader gets to see Hannah Hart in a raw form, a form that is usually protected by her wit and puns on her YouTube channel.
I know this review is short, but there’s not much to critique in way of plot or character development. The writing in this book is approachable, relatable, and gives the reader an emotional insight into an online personality that most would have never known has gone through so much hardship in their life. The book leaves a powerful and inspiring message that despite life’s hardships, everyone can turn out okay, so long as we remember to have a good sense of humor about it along the way.
5 out of 5 rainbows
Recommended Reader: Per Hart’s recommendation, perfect for a flight! It’s a great book to read a chapter a night before bed or all at once. It does handle some heavy topics, but you never feel bogged down as a reader! I would recommend this book to mature individuals looking for a great piece of non-fiction!