Books in Our Bag: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
In the very first episode of HBO’s “Girls”, Lena Dunham’s character expresses her desire to write a memoir, and now real-life Dunham has done it. Not That Kind of Girl chronicles various adventures, incidences, and thoughts in Dunham’s life, from childhood to the present. Dunham divided the book into five sections: Love & Sex, Body, Friendship, Work, and Big Picture. Each features essays, blurbs, emails, and lists relating to its theme. The book is casual with easy language and embellished with small, simple drawings by illustrator, Joana Avillez. These illustrations make the book feel like a diary, and, after reading Dunham’s personal accounts of puberty, mental health issues, and sexual relationships, you will wonder what she actually left to the privacy of her own diary.
Any fan of Dunham’s will likely enjoy Not That Kind of Girl, which gives insight into her relationships with family and friends. It is not difficult to parallel some of her experiences in real life with the experiences she writes for her characters on Girls. One story recounts the time when, after returning home from college jobless, Dunham and two friends get jobs at a luxury children’s clothing store. They spend their time taking extended lunch breaks, giving their boss scalp massages, and trying to squeeze into children’s clothing.
Dunham also tells of a few hilarious-because-it’s-not-me attempts at romantic relationships. One is Ben, who ruins their relationship by jumping naked into Dunham’s bed, screaming “I WANNA KNOW WHERE DA GOLD AT!”, and Joe, who has a tattoo of “Mom” in Comic Sans. When reading stories like these, readers are left wondering the looks on Ben’s and Joe’s faces if they were ever to read the details that Dunham reveals. Dunham also covers her familial relationships, many of which include her sister, Grace. She remembers how, as a six-year-old, she told her parents she wanted a sibling; then, when they revealed she would get one, little Dunham said she had changed her mind. Despite this, Grace is obviously an important person in Dunham’s life and is even someone she looks up to, although Dunham is older than Grace.
Dunham’s stories also include her parents, who seem to have spent the last twenty-something years humoring Dunham and putting up with her quirky behavior, their friends, her grandmother and her therapists. Not That Kind of Girl is a compelling book, and Dunham makes sure not glamorize her life. The book offers an interesting and entertaining insight into her thoughts and background. It is a memoir that all young people can relate to.