In brief: A collection of essays and lists that really ‘get’ how it is to be a woman in her mid-20s. Plus, they’re really funny.
The good: Did I mention funny? Sometimes I couldn’t believe how ‘spot on’ Lena was. How do you know me?
The not-so-good: Those bits of gunk that can get stuck in your tonsils. Ew!
Why I chose it: Loved the cover and have enjoyed Lena’s writing in Glamour magazine.
Publisher: Fourth Estate (Harper Collins)
My rating: Must read!
Even though I don’t watch Girls (in fact, I don’t even know which channel it’s aired on in Australia), I can’t help but have heard of Lena Dunham. She’s all over the magazines I read (which are predominantly American) and she writes for them too. I’ve read several essays she’s done for US Glamour and I couldn’t help but be captivated by her witty style combined with the way she just ‘gets it’. She has the uncanny ability to put down perfectly in writing what young women are thinking but don’t always discuss openly from men to sex to career to life in general. Plus, that cover is all too awesome in its homage to the 1970s/1980s books I used to bring home from the library. Will I learn from what Lena’s learned?
The first thing I learned on starting to read Not That Kind of Girl is that Lena is mighty funny in the longer essay format coupled with lists of things she’s learned (e.g. from her parents or what’s not okay to say to friends). Underneath the humour though, is a whole big load of truth. What it’s really like not to be a size 6, what it’s like to be a bit different and what navigating friendship, family, men and work is like in your twenties. There’s a lot made of the struggle in high school but it seems that once you reach university and the job market, your worries and concerns are officially over. That life’s a peach. Anyone who has been there knows that is not necessarily the case – friend and relationship issues hit, suddenly you’re part of the work conveyor belt to hell and you’re not meant to feel or have any dramas. Lena gets that and she describes it brilliantly. It’s okay not to have 100% body confidence 100% of the time. You can still eat badly when you’re eating only ‘health’ food. There will be inappropriate situations where you just want to run from the room and hide under a blanket. But there are good times too during this decade – deep friendships and working out who you are. It’s okay to be not that kind of girl. You are the one who decides what kind of girl you are and you have the confidence to tell everyone else to stick it if they don’t like it. Lena’s tone makes it seem like she’s your good buddy, spilling it all.
Some may say that this book is superficial, and perhaps the topics seem that way when compared with global warming, terrorism and everything else bad in this world. But I think if you’re ever doubted yourself, this book might be helpful in showing that this is natural. We all put our best faces out there on Facebook, social media and even in day to day conversation (think about it: when did you last see someone on Facebook showing acne-marked pics while complaining that they put on two kilograms and can’t afford the rent this week). But not every day is 100% positive and I think Not That Kind of Girl celebrates that. Plus, I’m happy to know that I’m not the only person who dislikes camp!