With so many people talking about this book, I knew that I would have to get my hands on it sooner or later. While I have never watched an episode of Girls, Lena Dunham’s reputation of being hilarious precedes her, so I was excited to see some of that hilarity transferred into book form.
I should really preface this whole review with this: I really wanted to like this book. I really did. I love reading celebrity memoirs, and I had never met a celeb memoir that I didn’t like…until this one. I think I just expected so much more with all of the hype surrounding the book. I saw so many people instagramming how they were reading it. I suppose I could have read some of the Goodreads reviews beforehand, but I digress. I did not enjoy this book, and I’m really sad about it.
When I read a book like this, I expect to get something out of it. Usually there’s a common mix between telling his/her life story and giving sound advice to the readers. In Lea Michele’s book, Brunette Ambition, we learn about her rise to fame, but we also learn about staying healthy, the importance of good friends, and even beauty tips. In Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), we learn about her awkward and hilarious upbringing, but she also gives great advice and makes you feel like her best friend. In Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, Amy discusses her journey to SNL, Parks and Recreation, and various other projects she’s known for, but she also talks about the challenges of being a girl and many parts of her book are so quotable.
What did I get out of reading Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned?”
Short answer: Nothing.
Long answer: Throughout this book, I felt like Lena just wanted a place where she could rant about things that the people in her life were either tired of hearing about or didn’t care to hear about. I realize that the book is called Not That Kind of Girl, but I never figured out what kind of girl Lena isn’t.
In the first section, ‘Love and Sex,’ Lena starts out by saying how she always felt she was pretty plain-looking and the boys never asked her out or wanted to date her, but then the rest of the section is about her sexcapades and the dirty details about every “relationship” she’s had. I must admit, in some parts, I did feel sorry for her, such as when she had an AIM boyfriend. The way she described it almost made it seem like the guy didn’t actually exist. It was kind of just left up in the air. I thought this section would have been much better if she told it from a humorous standpoint, but the entire section almost makes it seem like she’s victimizing herself. I wanted to jump into the book and shake some sense into her, especially when she just kept repeating the same patterns of going after men who either only wanted her for sex or treated her poorly.
I won’t even go into detail about the whole Barry and supposed rape situation. I had no idea that there was already drama going down with a guy named Barry who she could have been describing in the book, but maybe not because some of the names were changed. I can understand her need to tell the story, but if she wanted to tell it, she could have clarified whether or not the name was changed in the book. The way the situation is being handled almost makes it seem like she’s just trying to save face.
In the “Body” section of the book, I almost fell asleep while listening to the audio book. She shares entries from her diet journal that she had years ago, and it’s literally her listing things that she ate each day and her guestimating how many calories she consumed with each food. If I was reading the actual copy of this book, I would have skipped over this part. For me, it didn’t really add anything to the book.
With all that being said, there were some good parts of the book. I love how she exuded confidence during the later years of her life. I felt like her parents were great models as far as confidence goes. Lena is the kind of person who is comfortable enough with her body that she’s willing to be naked and not have a second thought. That’s a confidence I can guarantee that I will never have.
My favorite quote of the whole book is “When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it, you start to mean less to yourself.” I think that’s a quote that so many people need to hear. We need to start telling ourselves that we’re important and that we mean something. If we don’t think we’re worth anything then why should anybody else? Again, the confidence that Lena displays in some parts of the book (the later years, definitely nothing in the beginning) is something to be envied.
I also loved Lena’s explanation of girl crushes. She said, “I never wanted to be with women as much as I wanted to be them.” That pretty much explains what a girl crush is to me. When I think of my girl crushes, I think about the way they carry themselves and live their lives. I’ve never wanted to be in a relationship with them, but I have wanted to be them or be their friend.
I give this book a 3 out of 5. It’s not something I would recommend to friends or something I would rush to the store to buy and put on my shelf. I’m so disappointed that I didn’t end up liking this book. It definitely wasn’t my cup of tea.
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