Praise must be given to Lena Dunham’s debut novel Not That Kind of Girl. Dunham is not only a pioneer and the voice of a generation, she is extremely successful to boot. She is the creator, producer, and star of HBO’s hit show “Girls” and has written and directed two feature-length films: “Creative Nonfiction” and “Tiny Furniture.” Not That Kind of Girl delivers a collection of amusing, witty anecdotes filled with Dunham’s dark sense of humor and a voice that drips with sarcasm and honesty.
Dunham’s honesty is palpable; whether she is making you laugh out loud at some ridiculous tale or cringing with shame and embarrassment on her behalf, you feel her experience as your own. She shares her thoughts, her past, her present, and her future with the reader in such a way you feel as though you have known her for quite some time. She speaks to the reader like they are a friend, a peer, an ally, a partner-in-crime. She relays and admits her stories like that of a juicy secret you just can’t wait to get whispered in your ear.
Lena Dunham addresses an array of topics, from sexcapades gone wrong, her love of New York, lifelong issues with her body and OCD, amusing accounts of the miseries of summer camp, to morbid fascinations with death and dying; Dunham covers it all. Even if the reader doesn’t care for her sense of humor or even her as a person, it is hard to not find her stories and experiences relatable in one way or another. Dunham’s goal is just that, to be relatable and share her misfortunates with fellow women in the hopes they can learn from her mistakes: “[…] if I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you […] then every misstep of mine was worthwhile.”
“No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a dietician. I am not a mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.” Dunham’s confessions, coming from a highly successful young woman in the entertainment and now literary world, are extremely humbling and inspiring. Not only her book, but her show, “Girls,” as well, speaks to a generation that I know all too well—the struggling and meandering young woman with passions and dreams, searching for their place in the world and the work force, getting through the confusing, hazy years of finding some sort of success but attempting to have some fun along the way as well.
I immediately fell in love with this book. I simultaneously devoured it from front to back, yet held it at arm’s length in order to make it last just a little bit longer. This book was my friend, a part of me, an extra limb for a weekend, attached to me at all times and never left my sight or side. I would relish in the comfort of curling up and tucking myself into all 270-some beloved pages. I would randomly burst out laughing, would quizzically be asked what I was laughing about, relay Dunham’s silly banter, and be greeted with more laughter from whoever had originally inquired. The author is downright funny. I cherished my time with this book and cannot wait to read it again in the future. Dunham states, “There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told.” Her words are inspiring and cut like a knife. Her voice is concise and paints a picture that is both bleak and vibrant and so true in today’s world. I simply love this book and would suggest it to any friend that loves funny, honest, personal essays. My only disappointment was met upon finishing it and having no more left to read.