Reading Challenge 2015 – A Book Written By Someone Under 30

Book Number Five – Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

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It’s funny that right after reviewing Malcolm’s book this should be the one I review. I didn’t know anything about Girls’ or Lena Dunham until he brought it to my attention. I remember that I had just finished University and I had a few days off before I was back in work, so I thought I’d watch an episode or two of Girls’ needless to say I binge watched the entire first season in a day.

Lena was likeable and refreshing. To me it was a relief to see a real woman on the screen, someone who was a little shorter and had a healthy figure, in comparison to the 6ft leggy girls with perfect blonde hair (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but it was nice to see women being presented in a more realistic way, with warts and all. So when I heard she had released a novel, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Not That Kind of Girl is a series of essays where Lena talks about everything from sex, body image and friendships in a beautifully candid way. The thing that struck me about the book was her willingness to share even the most painful of experiences with the readers, in the hope that it would prevent it from happening to other people, or in the hope that it would wake people up to the realities of things that may have happened to them. I remember when the novel came out that a lot of people ‘spoke out’ and accused her of being sexually abusive to her younger sister, but I feel that this was people latching onto two paragraphs of the book that were not given the full or proper context of which it was written.

This is a great book; Lena’s ability to write about some rather difficult or ‘awkward’ subject matters offers a breath of fresh air to the literary world. At moments when I was reading I found myself chewing on my lower lip as I empathised with certain encounters she found herself in, being able to relate not only to her reactions but her through processes too. This book was so relatable for me to the point where  I intend to write a very passionate email of thanks to her PR, in the hope it will be passed on to Lena.

From the whole novel it was her essay entitled ‘Is This Even Real? Thoughts on Death and Dying’ that really struck a chord with me. I suffer from anxiety and depression and sometimes out of nowhere I suffer from panic attacks and get struck with this fear so overwhelming that it takes my breath away. When I was a child I was always fearful of my parents dying, when I was 24 I held my father’s hand as he slipped into an eternal sleep after a five-year battle with Cancer. Since then I’ve come to understand the true fragility of my own mortality and it overwhelms me, stupidly and rather ignorantly, I thought I was the only one who suffered from these moments of gut gripping fear, so to see Lena write about what I have found so difficult to put into words for years and know that I’m not alone, really means a lot. It made me feel a little saner, something I often struggle with when something so minute can seem so amplified for me.

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This is a great collection of essays from a truly formidable and talented lady. A recommended read for all women out there.

‘ As a little kid, an unnamed fear would often overtake me. It wasn’t a fear of anything tangible-tigers, burglars, homelessness-and it couldn’t be solved by usual means like hugging my mother or turning on Nickelodeon shows. The feeling was cold and resided just below my stomach. It made everything around me seem unreal and unsafe.’

 

Star Rating out of 5: 5

Happy reading folks.

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