Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Having really dug the show Girls and been charmed and amused by it’s creator/star Lena Dunham, who seemed clever and witty. Because of this her book went onto the “to read” list.


I’m glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Dunham writes with painful openness at times, spilling out her fears, flaws and mistakes with a courageous honesty. At times she’s hard to understand, or at least to me, our minds working in very different ways, but she’s always engaging and oddly likable, and most importantly, funny.
A mix of anecdotes and thoughts on life Dunham touches on her childhood, relationships and fame. She discusses her insecurities and opens up about her past, and then book is by turns amusing, frustrating and moving. The chapter “Barry” detailing a rather unsavoury sexual encounter is heartbreaking as Dunham realises the true extent of what happened, largely due to the reactions of those she tells the story to. It feels like something that has weighed on her for some time and to unload in this manner is brave to me.
Dunham’s writing is filled with humour and energy, and while its not laugh-out-loud throughout it raises a few chuckles and plenty of smiles along the way.
Best of all, like Girls, it’s written without an eagerness to be liked, it’s about self-expression and Dunham comes across as a neurotic, frustrating and complicated person, beset by fears and issues like the rest of us. And it’s this honest, unvarnished approach which ensures that I really did like her and found her writing utterly captivating.
Verdict: A good read, held my attention wonderfully and Dunham is an interesting, clever and talented writer who had me enthralled throughout. It won’t be for everyone and Dunham’s neurotic personality may grate on some, but for me it worked. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

  1. Ah yes, Lena “The Sister Fister” Dunham. Showing that child molesters don’t have to be creepy old guys on the internet. They can look entirely normal, have hit tv shows, be part of your family, and even be your own sister. And no one will care, because she’s doing what the popular kids like and it doesn’t matter what she does to anyone else.

    1. First of all I appreciate the feedback but I’m going to guess you haven’t read the book?
      Dunham never “fists” her sister and can’t be described as a child molester. As a young child herself she examines her younger sister’s private parts. While this is inappropriate behaviour, it is not molestation and is done out of curiosity not some sexual pleasure. Child psychologists and developmental research shows that this exploration of other kids bodies is quite common and not abusive. Kids are curious and want to see what’s going on with other bodies (what the opposite gender has and also whether they are “normal” for their gender).
      Of course, if you had kids you’d probably explain it was inappropriate and educate them a different way, but to describe it as molestation is going a bit far.
      I understand that not everyone is a fan of Dunham but to use such terms without reading the book is wrong and diminishes what actual child molestation is.
      Again thanks for the feedback but I think this is a case where you need to read the source and not base your opinion on sensationalist and disingenuous reactions to it.

      1. The nick name was generated by someone else, I will admit. However, while I have not read the entire manuscript, I have seen and read the relevant parts where she describes her actions in regards to her sister’s privates and where (at least in the original edition of the book) described her own methods as the same as a child molester and how she persisted even when her sister wanted to stop.

        Now, one can of course write this off as childish innocence and exploration. It seems that many have. But I find this odd in the least, and hypocritical at the worst (especially when compared to the Dugard incident). Clearly, in the present, Dunham feels that at least her own actions were partially wrong, based purely on her own terminology of her methods. That she is given a free ride for those actions by the general populace and her fans, for whatever reason, does not mean however that she did right or what she did was acceptable.

        Would I teach my own children that such actions were wrong? Yes. However, more important than her actions (even though they are very important and likely caused harm to her sister, who I can only imagine thrilled to have the accounts publish to the larger world all for her older sister’s narcissistic glory) is the psychological things Dunham reveals about herself during her commission of those actions.

        But I will present for you a test. If it had been a man who wrote this book, and told about how he had done the exact same thing to his little sister or brother (the viewing, the fingering, the exploring), and had plied his younger sibling like a sexual predator….would you be as accepting and forgiving of such “childish explorations?”

      2. Dunham’s description of herself as acting like a sexual predator is a poor choice of wording, one she has since apologised for and admitted was insensitive. I agree that it was a mistake but most of her “grooming” was for affection from a younger sibling who often wanted to be left alone. Is that manipulative? Yes. But it seems the action of a sibling who doted on her sister and wanted a closer relationship.
        As to your point, had you done the same as a young child and written about it I would see it as a child’s curiosity, unless the writing was lascivious. The fact you use this “if it was a guy” argument kinda proves my initial thought that the issue here is that as a society we’re far too eager to apply sexuality and sexual motivations to the actions of children, who often act for different reasons. Children comparing their bodies with each other has very little to do with sex and more with working out the human body. There are probably millions of people who did similar things to Dunham, either with siblings or classmates, and I don’t think we’d condemn them all as molesters.
        Dunham wasn’t given a free ride, and caught plenty of flak. What she did was wrong, and not acceptable, but to dub her a child molester is a stretch.
        Anyway, always good to have a discussion and exchange of views and cheers for the feedback and hope our difference in opinion on this doesn’t stop you from reading.

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