I tune into GIRLS on HBO every Sunday at 9pm and have been a fan of the show since the start (“I think I could be the voice of my generation; or at least, a generation”). So I was really excited and intrigued to read Lena Dunham’s, creator and star of the show, very first memoir for our first book club book. I devoured this controversial book within 5 days, and I have to say, I was not disappointed! I was definitely able to see some of the inspiration Lena has pulled from her life for the show; even her character, Hannah, has some of the same characteristics that Lena herself possessed; however, you can definitely see that Lena is a young woman who is her own person and is actually quite different from the character she portrays on HBO. She is an interesting child who grew up with OCD; she is a child of the NYC art world who has grown to accept her differences and who has learned to love herself. She has suffered from body issues most of her life, and as a woman who also has the same body image dysmorphia, I can only hope to be as accepting of what I was given one day. It is a struggle that I deal with everyday and I am happy this conversation is out and there are roll models such as Lena taking the lead and talking about their journey towards acceptance and love.
I’m sure most of you have already heard about the backlash to the most controversial parts of the book. These take place in the first half of the book, where I wasn’t expecting to see them. I don’t wish to repeat them, and you’ll recognize them if you read the book or even do a quick Google search, but they have caused quite an uproar calling Dunham “a sexual predator,” and sometimes worse. Maybe it is because I read these sections before I read the book itself, but I breezed right through these chapters unfazed. Personally, I don’t believe Ms. Dunham thought anything was wrong with what she was doing, and fans and critics alike misinterpreted her actions as horrible. She was clearly just an extremely curious child who was raised in a very liberal environment. Personally, these parts do make me cringe as I also have a younger sister; however, I do not condemn Dunham for her curiosity or for writing about it. Those are unconventional moments she explored and was brave enough to share it with the world, opening her up for judgment and severe backlash.
My favorite part of the memoir was in section IV Work, entitled “I Didn’t Fuck Them, but They Yelled at Me”. She starts this section with saying “This is the name of the memoir I’m going to write when I’m eighty. You know, once everyone I know in Hollywood is dead.” It encompasses Lena’s perspective and past experiences as a women trying to work in Hollywood and a small glimpse of what it’s like to be a working young actress these days. That is the male perspective that female actresses are necessary for films, but disposable and invaluable elsewhere. It was a surprising and interesting read, especially with all the female power surging through the media these days. I loved that she has planned to write a memoir in her eighties that calls people out on their shit. I often think about what I’ll be able to do at that age, but in my case it’s more so that I can’t wait to say whatever I want and get to wear more caftans.
Overall, I think it is exactly what the front cover says: a great memoir of what a young woman has learned so far. As a millennial in the same age group, it was refreshing to hear the thoughts and experiences of a young female figuring it out in life, since I so often question my own path. I really admire Lena for her open honesty and really enjoyed reading her story!
How did you like Not That Kind Of Girl for our first book club book?