You know that feeling when you go to a party you don’t even want to go to, and then it sucks and you’re like, “I should’ve just stayed home?” That was Barb, played by Shannon Purser in season one of Netflix’s Stranger Things. But Barb never even got to leave the party because she was viciously murdered by a demogorgon and no one even saw it happen so the whole town kind of just *forgets* about her mysterious disappearance.
First of all, #justiceforbarb. Second of all, props to The Book of Barb, written by Nadia Bailey and published by Smith Street Books, an unofficial Stranger Things book celebrating all things Barb. From the moment I opened the hardcover and saw the inside cover page plastered with ‘80s-inspired cartoon squiggles, geometric shapes, and a pattern of Barb’s illustrated face over and over, I knew this was going to be good.
There are three chapters: “What Would Barb Do?” “The Secrets of Barb Style,” and “Justice for Barb.” The book is 95 pages of light-hearted mixed media that reads like a magazine, including comic-style cartoons and illustrations, fun quizzes, horoscopes (for December 1984), and tons of tips from Barb on everything from Barb’s party do’s and don’ts to a field guide of eyewear in Hawkins, Indiana. And everything is written in the voice of Barb.
- I took the “Which Hawkins High student are you?” quiz and, sadly, I did not get Barb. But, then I retook it and cheated to get Barb.
- I especially enjoyed Barb’s make-up secrets, with gems such as “Barb favors a sheer foundation that doesn’t hide her freckles — instead, they shine through like a tiny, lovely galaxy.”
- Barb’s Mixtape features ‘80s bops from Blondie, Pink Floyd, The Police, and David Bowie.
- In Barb’s guide to choosing a good party outfit, she says, “What do you do when your best friend drags you to a party that you don’t want to go to, attended by people who bore you, so she can make out with a boy you don’t like? You express your disdain by wearing exactly what you were wearing to school that day.”
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which finally gives Barb her time to shine. It’s the type of book you might not read more than once but it’s fun and would make a perfect gift for that Stranger Things-loving friend on his or her birthday, or to prep them for season three, which hits Netflix on July 4.