Last night, I finished reading Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded. It was excellent, really – it’s a deeply personal memoir by Hannah Hart, of My Drunk Kitchen fame. Honestly, this book surprised me. Hart is awesome, and I love her YouTube channel, but I did not expect this book to be as vulnerable as it is. I expected this to be a pretty simple story – telling about how she reached YouTube fame by getting drunk and cooking, telling about some of the experiences she’s had as a YouTuber and content creator, that kind of thing.
Instead, this book was an intimate story about her troubled childhood. Hart’s mother has schizophrenia, and went without any kind of treatment for much of Hart’s childhood. This meant that Hart grew up in a home that was filthy, with a parent who was not fit to take care of herself, let alone care for her children. Hart was also raised Jehovah’s Witness, which is another dimension she touches on in the book.
The clean, easy way for this story to work would be that Hart had this troubled childhood, then she went off to college, then My Drunk Kitchen, then she lived happily ever after. Instead, life is messy, and she writes about the ways her mother’s mental illness has affected her today, and her more recent struggle to win conservatorship over her mother and care for her within a system that doesn’t make things easy. The memoir feels as though the ending is unfinished, and it works in the context. Hart’s struggle with her mother is still a work in progress, and it’s not clear what will happen next.
This was a compelling read, even if it was not the easy, funny memoir I expected. Parts of the book were funny, for sure, but it also had moments of pain and depth that I didn’t know to expect.