Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham: Book Review

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Obtained: Penguin Random House, ARC
Pages: 265
Publish date: September 30, 2014
Rating: ★★

When Random House of Canada offered me a reviewers copy of Dunham’s book, I could hardly contain myself. I am a huge fan of the show Girls, and her character is my favourite. Knowing she writes the show as well, I knew what to expect from a novel of her writing. Well, I thought I knew what to expect. That’s where I got let down. I think I just expected a little too much.

Not That Kind of Girl is Lena Dunham’s autobiography about everything that she’s learned thus far in her life. I’m not one to put down an autobiography simply because the author is still young; you’re never too young to have an experience that must be shared with the world. Only I didn’t find any of her essays particularly urgent. They lacked the feeling of “that story that absolutely needed to be told”. If you’re getting a book published, you should have something to say, and I felt as though Dunham said a whole lot of nothing.

The first chapter was quite interesting to me. She wrote about her sexual escapades that had me thinking about the issues of feminism and slut-shaming, thinking it brave that Dunham would spill her guts out about such personal matters and not be ashamed of them. That’s the way it should be. But as the book went on, the crazy exploits (not just sexual) kept on coming, and there was yet a lesson to be learned.

I don’t care if she chooses to skip out on work to do drugs, or she gets so drunk or high that she gets herself into some sexual trouble that could ultimately be very dangerous. But if she’s writing a book about it, there better be a point as to why I’m reading this book about it. If these are just stories and she hasn’t actually a lesson to teach, why should I read them?

On the plus side, I’m a fairly liberal person and some of the things Dunham has done makes me seem a bit prudish. So it did make me think about my liberal declaration and whether or not I should be uptight about some of the things that are fairly societally accepted as things to be uptight about. That was kind of interesting. I like being challenged in that way.

I also acknowledge that maybe I liked the sex chapter because I could relate, and I didn’t like the education one or the body image one because I really couldn’t relate. I was a good student who loved school all the way through. I never really had many concerns with my health or body image. So maybe that’s why I didn’t care very much – I just couldn’t relate, couldn’t sympathize, couldn’t emote the way she expected me to.

I got to the final section of the book – “The Big Picture” – before putting it down for good. I gave Not That Kind of Girl two stars on Goodreads. I still love Lena Dunham, but I’m going to keep to watching Girls and leave it at that.

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