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I am borderline obsessed with Gabbie Hanna, and I’ve been a huge fan of her YouTube videos for years. She’s so refreshing to watch because of her candor and her willingness to share the fact that she’s an actual human. Her videos aren’t full of make-up tutorials and lookbooks. It’s her telling stories and doing hilarious things. She’s genuine, honest and talented beyond belief.
I read Adultolescence from cover to cover in one sitting, and after I closed the book, I had a lot of feelings. A lot. I’m not an avid reader of poetry. I love the written word, and I do enjoy reading poems, but I don’t go out of my way to seek poetry. I’m not ashamed to say that I bought this book purely because it was written and illustrated by one of my favorite YouTubers, but had I not been a fan of Gabbie, I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed this collection of poems (in spite of the fact that in her author’s note she mentions her book is inspired by Bo Burnham who is one of my absolute favorite comedians).
If you’re a fan of Gabbie, you will recognize and appreciate the humor that was easily translated from her videos to paper. You’ll also get to know a more vulnerable side of Gabbie in a few of her poems. Many of her poems were heartbreaking and so relatable to me. Some of my favorites were:
This poem was about loneliness and how loneliness is her best friend because it never leaves her.
This is about a relationship that starts out really cute. He wants to get to know her, and she lets him in. Then the relationship reaches its climax, and they grow apart and become strangers again. The poem starts and ends with the same three lines, and I love how she did that.
Anyone who suffers from anxiety will relate to this poem.
Gosh, this one got me. She writes metaphorically about women being rag dolls. The last line reads: “I don’t know whoever said that boys don’t play with dolls.” Y’all. It’s so good.
I really like the message behind this poem. She writes about being so excited about something and then allowing people to take her excitement away then vowing to never let anyone steal her happiness again. The format of it doesn’t really read like a poem, but it’s still a very relatable story.
This is probably one of my favorite poems in the book. It’s about how when you break up with someone, the person they date next gets to reap the benefits of all the lessons that you taught him/her. One stanza reads,
“I hope you notice how he listens when you speak
about the way he’s upsetting you.
It took a lot of yelling to make his ears work.”
I love this poem so much. It’s about embracing change and how people say “You’ve changed” as if it’s a bad thing. It talks about how if we didn’t change, we wouldn’t learn or grow or become better. My favorite line is the last one, which reads “Yes, I’ve changed. Thank you for noticing.” Simple.
This is a short poem that anyone with relationship anxiety will appreciate.
There are many poems in Adultolescence that I enjoyed for different reasons. Some I related to. Some reminded me of a moment or person or relationship from my past or present. Some of them made me laugh. Some were just super clever.
All that said, there are also several poems that are very surface-level and, for lack of a better term, pointless. If you’ve read the book, this should be of no surprise to you. Gabbie even writes a poem called “Filler” that’s literally about how some of these poems were written and put in the book purely because she had a deadline. As a fan, this kind of pisses me off. I wanted a book full of poems that inspired me and made my heart break and made me go “me too!” And while there are many poems that do just that, there are way too many poems (erm “poems”) that are just there to fill up pages.
There’s a poem called “Link” and the poem reads “in bio.” That’s all that’s on the page. I kid you not. Three words, no illustrations.
In “IDK,” the poem reads “i dunno, yanno?” That’s it.
These page fillers just upset me because she missed the opportunity to put things out there that had substance.
Some of the poems were so short that I feel like they should have just been left on Twitter. Don’t get me wrong; some of them were clever, but again, it just seemed like it was a page-filler. I’m also not a fan of the fact that all of her poems were written in lowercase with many typos, text talk and some even without punctuation. I understand that the book is called Adultolescence and the aim was probably to show the adolescent-side with the use of bad grammar, but for many of the poems, it’s frustrating.
I also wish there was more flow to the book. The opening poem is cute because it acknowledges the fact that it’s another YouTuber book, and all YouTubers have books now, but her second poem is called “Sleep,” and I wasn’t a fan of it, and I hate that it was one of the first poems to lead into the rest of the book. When I went to buy the book initially, I sat down and read a few poems to decide if I actually wanted to make the purchase. The first couple poems almost deterred me. Luckily, the aforementioned poem,”BFF,” was poem #5, and that made me want to take the plunge. All of the poems are all over the place. You could be reading about an abusive relationship and then turn the next page to read about coffee. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it started with the more heavy poems and ended with the liberating, inspiring, self-love poems and then all of the extra, unnecessary pages could just be gone.
There are a few poems in Adultolescence that frustrated me a little extra because they were so well-written and so moving, and then I got to the end and they were ruined because of Gabbie’s desire to be funny. One example is a poem called “Cliches.” She writes about different cliches that relate to relationships and how they’re an antithesis to one another. For example, one cliche is “When it’s right, it’s easy,” but another says “Relationships take a lot of work.” I like how she pinned these cliches against each other. It makes you think and is all great until the end when she makes it superficial. She questions if you should have a lot in common with someone you’re dating or if opposites attract. Love that. Then the last line reads “I suppose that depends on if you have similar interests/to the chick with the awesome rack.” That line ruined the entire poem for me.
Overall, I would give Adultolescence 3 out of 5 stars. There are some poems that I loved, and I made a list of them so I can go back and read them without having to reread the ones I didn’t enjoy. If you’re a millennial who is a fan of poetry, there are many poems in this book that you’ll enjoy and relate to. Otherwise, I would probably only recommend this book to die-hard fans of Gabbie.
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