Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham's autobiography keeps it real.
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Lena Dunham's autobiography keeps it real.
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Book Cover via Amazon

To be honest, I'm not sure why I haven't started watching Girls yet. It's set in New York City, and I'm obsessed with New York City. It's about a post-college girl trying to make it as a writer, and I'm an aspiring writer. It's on HBO, and I've never been disappointed by an HBO show. Basically, I need to reevaluate my life choices and start watching Girls

Before I hop on that bandwagon, though, I decided I needed a little background information on Lena Dunham. Before picking up her autobiography, I didn't know much about her except that she's a pal of Taylor Swift (which makes her A+ in my book) and that she's no stranger to controversy. In fact, her tendency to stir the pot and get people talking is how I heard about her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, in the first place.

With all that in mind, I decided to disregard any rumors I'd heard about Lena Dunham, pick up a copy of her memoir, and make my own opinions on the outspoken celebrity. Her collection of essays was eye-opening, definitely unique, and a pretty fun read! 

You'll love this book because...

  • "I am twenty years old and I hate myself" is as good a way as any to start off a memoir. This will set the tone for the entirety of the book; Dunham does not shy away from anything. She is blunt, she is honest, and she speaks her mind with a kind of open ferocity that is rare to see in female celebrities. 
  • That said, her frankness might not be for everyone. She is exceptionally candid about all sorts of issues, and her writing is definitely not for the more conservative crowd. Still, if you've got an open mind and a sense of humor, then by all means dive into this book!
  • Dunham is a truly gifted writer. Her storytelling is elaborately detailed and centers you right inside the story she's crafting. I can hear her child-self throwing tantrums about going to bed; I can see her digging into raw hamburger meat and vinegar (ew); I can feel her conflicted emotions on falling in love. Every image is carefully constructed and a visceral moment I can almost hold in my hand.
  • The descriptions of college life are something we truly can all relate to. Uncertainty about friend groups, relationships, the future? Check. Pizza at 3:00 AM? Check. There are so many experiences we have to go through in college, both good and bad, both opportunities for growth and reminders of our past, both hilarious and sorrowful, both things we've forgotten and things we'll cherish forever. The more stories I read that remind me of exactly what I'm going through, the more validated my experiences feel and the happier I get. Dunham's stories may not always be mirror images of my own tales, but I definitely felt better reading about her own struggles and triumphs (not to mention her section about entering the workforce after college).
  • Dunham gets deep. There's no shortage of emotion in this book, including an entire chapter about her thoughts on death and dying. She is unflinching in her examination of life, and in a way, it's refreshing. Not many of us can face the darker parts of life so freely. It's nice to see a writer tackle all aspects of the human experience in a fluff-free way.

Just a warning: this book is not for the faint of heart. Lena Dunham doesn't hold back, which is probably why this book has stirred up so much controversy. Still, I'd list it as a must-read for college girls. The more narratives we can get of women in college, women post-grad, or women earning success, the better.

Reading other women's stories should be the inspiration to start living, and maybe even writing about, our own experiences. For her literary talent, her humor, and her unabashed openness, I applaud Lena Dunham and recommend you skim through a copy of Not That Kind of Girl as soon as you can. 

Thoughts?

Have you read Not That Kind of Girl? If not, are you interested in reading it now? Are you a fan of memoirs? Leave a comment and let me know what you're thinking!