I still remember watching Girls for the first time. I was sitting on the couch in my college house surrounded by my best friends and we were all transfixed. What was this show? Immediately, I knew that regardless of whether Girls became a success (which we all know it ultimately did), Lena Dunham had a fan in me.
Fast-forward three years, and she still has the ability to make me both laugh and cringe in the ways that being confronted with truths often do. So, considering my love of Dunham, how is it remotely possible I waited over a year to read Not That Kind of Girl? I have no valid answer to that question. All I can say is that, thankfully, the release of the paperback helped me remedy the situation.
I knew even before opening up Not That Kind of Girl that it had received rave reviews when first published last year. Famed book critic Michiko Kakutani wrote in The New York Times that the book was “as acute and heartfelt as it is funny.” (You can also find this riveting quote on the back of the paperback, as I did). Since I put a lot of trust in reviews, I was hopeful as I opened up the book to the introduction. After reading the first lines, I knew that I was going to enjoy it.
There’s something so familiar and honest about her writing. It’s as if your best friend is casually telling you about her successes and her failures and what makes her tick. There has been backlash about some of her essays, but my response is that her personal anecdotes serve as much more than just stories. She touches on issues that everyone has faced at one point.
We’ve all felt like outsiders. We’ve all pondered death or why we're 10 pounds overweight even though we eat healthy. We’ve all had our hearts broken, made bad decisions about men or women, and wondered what the hell we’re going to do with our lives post-graduation. Or at least I have, and chances are you have, too.
This is what Dunham does best though—she’s able to make us feel a bit less crazy for being authentic. Sometimes the best gift that someone can give you is to show you their freak flag, so you feel a little less alone in a world where so much is filtered. Thankfully for me, Dunham has done that.
So run, don’t walk, to pick up Not That Kind of Girl in paperback ($16; amazon.com). You won’t regret it.