Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham

Title: Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"
Author: Lena Dunham
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: September 30th, 2014
Source: Received from Publisher for an Honest Review 

My Rating: 3.5/5

From the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO's Girls comes a hilarious, wise, and fiercely candid collection of personal essays that establishes Lena Dunham as one of the most original young talents writing today.

In Not that Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one's way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself in a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and, most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told.

Exuberant, moving, and keenly observed, Not that Kind of Girl is a series of dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle that is growing up. "I'm already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you," Dunham writes. "But if I can take what I've learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile." (Summary from Goodreads)

I don't read memoirs. Let me just put that out there. I have never had any desire. They just aren't my thing. But, there was something that sparked my interest when Lena Dunham said she was writing one. I'm a big fan of the HBO show Girls, so that could've been it. But, more than that, I was interested to read about a girl who wasn't much older than me, was a pretty vocal activist for women's rights, and had garnered so much success. It was intriguing to me. When offered a copy from Random House (Jackie, you da best) I jumped at the chance to read it.

Before I get into discussing the contents of the book, I have to admire the packaging. The front cover is simple, beautiful, and perfectly fitting. Every time I see it, I feel a little happy inside. I also loved the hilarious quotes on the back (I don't usually even read quotes, but these ones were great) and her author photo. As well, I thought the inner lining was beautiful, and the little tiny draws fabulous. This is a book I'm glad to own because it's just a tiny treat to hold.

As I said earlier, I don't read memoirs. So, it was a different experience for me reading this book. Dunham definitely grabs your attention. I was hooked from the outset. Her humor and wit were delightful, and her writing style was great. I could almost hear her voice in my head while I was reading. It read well and realistically. I loved Dunham's unflinching honesty. This was her life, her experiences, and not all of their were pretty and perfect and tied up with a bow. They were scary, and confusing, but also joyful and inspiring. Dunham didn't just pick out the "good" parts of her life, but talked about all the things that shaped her, for better or worse. I admired that. When reading, I wasn't always comfortable. And that's okay. Life isn't always comfortable. Sometimes its messy and gross and hard. And Dunham didn't shy away from that, which I appreciated.

In saying that though, I felt some of the stories dragged. They were sometimes too drawn out, or too descriptive for my taste. I didn't always find myself interested completely in them. But I did enjoy parts of all of them. I was almost in tears when she was describing some of the ordeals she faced. But I also found my self slowly flipping through others. I wanted to love it, to be fascinated by it, a bit more than I was. Maybe cause I'm not used to reading memoirs, or maybe cause I felt it lagged. But something kept me from completely loving it. 

I kind of expected a certain message from this memoir, one I didn't quite receive. And that's totally fine, because I was assuming something before I even opened the first page. And I'm glad I didn't get exactly what I wanted, cause that wasn't what Dunham intended. This was her story, not mine. And I am glad she shared it. I think it's so so important for women to talk about their experiences, their lives, and have them heard. Dunham is inspiring, that can't be denied. As a young woman myself, seeing Dunham's rise as a writer, her success in the television industry in the face of many obstacles, is incredible. I may not be pursuing a career in television, but seeing a young woman achieve so much is always inspiring. Although her memoir wasn't a phenomenal read, I'm really glad I did, in fact, get the chance to read it.

Overall, Not That Kind of Girl was enjoyable and interesting to read. I can't wait for more from Lena Dunham. (Especially cause Girls comes back this month YUS).

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

P.S. If anyone has an extra "Not That Kind of Girl" pin they got at a signing, I would actually love you forever if I could nab it from you. SERIOUSLY THOUGH.

Find This Book: Chapters/Indigo | The Book Depository | Goodreads | Penguin Random House

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