Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham


Book Title/Author: Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham
Publisher/Year: October 2015 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published September 2014)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Humour, Essays
Series: N/A
Format: Softcover
Source: Owned


“In Not that Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one’s way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself in a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and, most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told.

Not that Kind of Girl is a series of dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle that is growing up. “I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you,” Dunham writes. “But if I can take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile.” (Goodreads)

*NOTE: The above synopsis is not as detailed as others on Goodreads. For the purposes of not giving away any spoilers, I have selected the synopsis above; however, I would highly recommend reviewing this Goodreads synopsis before you pick up this book.





Before you obtain a copy of Not That Kind of Girl, I would highly recommend reading this Goodreads synopsis , which goes into a detailed breakdown of what each of the different essays are about. I wish that I had read this synopsis and not the other one before I bought this book. I thought that I did my research well, and bought this book thinking I would really like it. It was not what I had expected and many of the stories just angered me. I don’t even want this book on my shelves — it upsets me this much.

One of the book blurb quotes even says:

I’m surprised by how successful this was. I didn’t even finish it.

When I first saw this I thought it was supposed to be witty and funny, because what author or publisher would willingly put a negative comment on their book? It had to have been done sarcastically — boy was I wrong. Now I’m thinking that they ran out positive quotes that just needed to add in one more quote to fill the page and this one was randomly picked.

Ok, so I have bitched enough about the fact that I did not enjoy this book, but I have not provided you reasons why. Here is why I disliked Not That Kind of Girl:

  • The introduction is strong and has promise, it sets up the book as being a story that “deserves to be told”. Then you carry on reading only to discover the things worth telling are apparently an email she wrote to a boy, stories about the times she shared a bed with men she didn’t have sex with, food journal entries from when she used to count calories, and a list of things in her purse.
  • Did not gain any kind of insight or anything of value from reading this
  • Humour was OK, but mostly disturbing when you stop and think about what is being joked about
  • The sexual encounters that she explains are not healthy, they’re rapey. And rather than explicitly saying something helpful to readers like “This is wrong. If this has happened to you, talk to someone” it’s shrugged off and twisted into a joke. Here are two examples of sexual encounters, you tell me if you’d joke about this:

“I told him “I have to pee.” [He] leads me to the parking lot. I tell him to look away. I pull down my tights to pee, and he jams a few of his fingers inside me, like he’s trying to plug me up.”


“I look onto the floor…and see that he’s taken off the condom…Why does he think it’s okay to take it off? Did I ask him to put one on?…I tell him he has to put the condom back on…Now we’re across the room, our bodies in a new formation. I tip my head back as far as it will go. And up, in my roommate’s tree, I see another condom. Or was it the same condom. A condom that isn’t on him and maybe never was.”

I wanted to stop reading half way through, but I bought the book and I wanted to complete it. I wanted to know if it got better. I kept thinking “it will get better — don’t give up, just read the next part. So many people loved this book, it has to get better.”

It didn’t.

I have not been this disappointed in a book for a long time. Actually, I don’t recall the last time I felt this disappointed.


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