Read Not That Kind of Girl: A Memoir by Carlene Bauer Online


“[A] stunning new memoir… thick with contemplation, packed with ideas and images rendered in exacting, evocative prose…. Brave and startlingly beautiful.” —Time Out New York“Truthful, intelligent, and engrossing. This may become a generation's definitive account of books and the city.” —Jeff Sharlet, New York Times bestselling author of The FamilyA loving and literate, hon“[A] stunning new memoir… thick with contemplation, packed with ideas and images rendered in exacting, evocative prose…. Brave and startlingly beautiful.” —Time Out New York“Truthful, intelligent, and engrossing. This may become a generation's definitive account of books and the city.” —Jeff Sharlet, New York Times bestselling author of The FamilyA loving and literate, honest and insightful look into the heart of that unsung heroine: the good girl. Fans of the strong narrative voices of such writers as Donna Tartt (The Secret History, The Little Friend), Nell Freudenberger (Lucky Girls, The Dissident), and Amy Bloom (Come to Me, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You), as well as books such as The Nanny Diaries, Prep, and The Devil Wears Prada, will love Not That Kind of Girl: Carlene Bauer’s hilarious and touching memoir of God, books, and rock and roll....

Title : Not That Kind of Girl: A Memoir
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060840549
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Not That Kind of Girl: A Memoir Reviews

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-04-16 10:56

    (3.5) What a shame that Lena Dunham has forever rendered this memoir obscure by stealing the title. I read this because I adored Bauer’s debut novel, Frances and Bernard, a sophisticated epistolary between two New York City writers. This could accurately be described as a spiritual memoir, and I think will probably appeal most to readers who have grown up in a restrictive religious setting. Attending Christian school in New Jersey, Bauer absorbed the notion that the world “was a poxed and pustuled old thing, diseased by our pride and greed, headed for destruction.” A bookish, introspective adolescent, she was troubled by how fundamentalism denied the validity of secular art, including the indie rock she loved and the literature she lost herself in. All the same, Christian notions of purity and purpose stuck with her throughout her college days in Baltimore and then when she was trying to make it in publishing in New York City. Along the way she flirted with converting to Catholicism, which, it seemed, “held open the doors for those who wanted to love God and live on the left.”My favorite chapters are about her early years in the City; “I think you’re the most earnest girl I’ve met in New York!” a male colleague tells her. After this point there’s a whole sequence of not-quite-relationships that gets a little tedious. I also like the high school years, which are described with inventive metaphors and a Freaks and Geeks vibe, as in an account of gym class, with “all of us looking like undercooked dumplings under the fluorescent lights.” The way Bauer incorporates echoes of biblical language is really clever: “I thought everyone had come to this city to have life, and have it more abundantly.” She is also quite cutting about Evangelicalism’s low standards, and clear-eyed about the temporary role faith played in her life:“People picked up the phrases [of praise songs and prayers] and passed them around like a contagion, which meant that they were perfectly happy to use what was lying about and say what everyone else was saying. There was no reflection on this habit, no idea that God deserved better than clichés. There was no art anywhere, just the utilitarian and relevant and transparent.”“I saw that I was only a Christian because of when I was born, where I was born, and to whom I was born. It was an accident, and I accepted this. But it was not enough to make me stop thinking I heard God’s voice when I asked for him—it made me question everything I’d been told, or believed, about reading and writing.”This book resonated with my experience in many ways. What Bauer does best is to capture a fleeting mindset and its evolution into a broader way of thinking. Even though the book somewhat lacks structure and is perhaps too inclusive, I’d recommend it to people who have struggled with faith or for whom faith is a totally foreign concept and would like to try to understand its hold.

  • Susann
    2019-04-15 06:44

    I'm not a fan of memoirs in general and, when I do read them, I prefer those written by an old person who has some great stories, a younger person who's experienced something really unusual, or anyone who can make me shoot liquids out of my nose. Bauer is exactly my age, grew up in the next state over, has worked in the same industry as me, has worked in the building across the street from my office building, and has lived in my neighborhood. Plus, growing up, we read many of the same books. Our supposedly huge difference is that I am a non-believer and she was raised in an evangelical environment (except it wasn't all that evangelical) and has spent much of her adulthood trying to figure out her religious place in the world. At times we've both found ourselves on the "not that kind of girl" spectrum, but whereas Bauer seems to attribute her NTKOG moments to her Christian background, I...don't. Not that I'm denying the power of outside influences, but the further I got into her memoirs, the more convinced I became that Bauer's analytical, over-thinking self would be pretty much the same if she had been raised in any other kind of religious environment, or even a non-religious environment. I know that memoirs are hot ticket items right now, but I think this would have been a more convincing story, had it been a novel that borrowed heavily from Bauer's life. Kudos for the two Maud Hart Lovelace shout-outs in the text.

  • Mike Lindgren
    2019-04-04 10:52

    The story is archetypal, very nearly mythic: a young woman comes to the city from the hinterlands, absorbs some hard knocks, wrangles with some identity angst, and by pluck and luck lands on her feet. From Joan Didion to Meghan Daum to last year's flavor Sloane Crosley, the narrative retains its basic shape while supporting endless permutations: it's an armature as flexible and resilient as a sonnet. Year after year these books arrive on the shelves, sporting variations of the prim-yet-sexy author photo, the artfully artless cover, their creators relentless and somehow heartbreaking in their poise, their intelligence, their seriousness.Carlene Bauer's Not That Kind of Girl is of this milieu, and yet transcends it — in the world, but not of it — for two reasons, one anthropological and one aesthetic. The former is by weight of the startling fact that the author, who superficially is just another overeducated publishing drone with a shared flat in Williamsburg and surfeit of male friends with lots of facial hair, is in fact a devout, even tormented, Christian. The second is that Bauer, as was once said of Raymond Chandler, writes like a slumming angel. If you're going to chronicle your inner spiritual turmoil against a backdrop of rooftop Brooklyn beer parties, you'd better have chops. Bauer does: an elegant, jazzy stylist, puckish without being flip, she makes most other memoirists — of either gender — seem shallow and gabby by comparison.Although being a sexually abstinent practicing Christian in New York City in the 21st century is possibly the most genuine act of rebellion imaginable, Bauer doesn't exploit it as a novelty, or a challenge, or a curiosity; about twenty pages in, whatever lurid preconceptions one might have brought to the book have been dissipated by its author's sturdy good cheer. What is remarkable about Not That Kind of Girl is not that it presents a clever twist on zeitgeist-y nonfiction (the promotional copy, unusually crude even by HarperCollins's low standards, compares it to Sex and the City "with Mr. Big played by 'the man upstairs'") but that it is so clear-eyed about the mysterious yet essential process of self-invention. From The L Magazine, August 5, 2009

  • Corinne
    2019-03-22 11:10

    Carlene Bower's early life was filled with Jesus and a fear of his second coming. Her education at religious schools prepared her to choose their interpretation of God's path but didn't arm her with self-confidence or much of a conviction that life was supposed to be a wonderful thing. The majority of this book is her experiences in college, when she decides that while she's not ready to loose her virginity or try drugs, she IS interested in finding out more of what the world has to offer. So, she moves to New York City and starts trying to make a place for herself in a town overflowing with talented and beautiful people.Much of this book is Carlene's search for what she really wants. What WILL make her happy? Writing? Partying? A man? New York City? God? Some of her musings really resonated with me as she picked apart her responses and actions - but other times, I felt like she glossed over some really major decisions, which felt out of place with the rest of the narrative. I enjoyed her crisp and descriptive prose - and she's very self-effacing so I wasn't annoyed by her tone and she clearly wants to understand herself and her relationship with God and the universe. She has a beautiful way with words that made her world very real.In the end, for me, though, I just didn't catch the vision of it. I felt like the crux of this book: her feelings about God and her decision to be a virgin and when to let that go, were discussed and discussed by never resolved in a concrete way. I ended up feeling sometimes a bit bored and sometimes a bit frustrated by the process. I will say, though, that for others who have searched for God (or had him handed to them as a child), found him again and then wondered if that was enough - this book would probably feel very familiar and worth picking up.

  • Beth
    2019-04-19 03:50

    This is an odd memoir. Bauer writes in a way that makes it sound like she's analyzing herself, but she never really examines her deep-down, "what makes myself myself" issues, which would have made the book more satisfying. I was struck by how loveless her life seemed, and not just in a romantic sense; she has friends, but her relationships with people seem to be more about how they make her feel about herself than about the pleasure of sharing experiences and connections. She introduces us to many of the people in her life, but almost all of them feel nebulous; I'm probably being ungenerous to think it, but I supposed that this was because she saw people as existing only in relation to herself, not as individuals to love and appreciate. She touches on her lack of lovingness briefly (I poked around but can't find the passage now) but I felt like this should have been given much more focus. Why don't you (can't you?) love people, Caroline? How did this happen? What does it have to do with this religious journey you're telling us about?This is probably cynical, but I kept thinking that the religious aspect of this book was just an angle to get it published. Bauer is clearly more interested in talking about guys and parties and general coming-of-post-college-age stuff -- which is fine, but not inherently interesting. Bauer is intelligent, and she's probably totally pleasant and charming in person. But I had trouble picturing how she moves about the world, how she actually interacts with people. The rumination to scene ratio is about 20:1. The prose is great, though.

  • Sara Strand
    2019-03-24 07:12

    I want to be honest with you and tell you that despite the fact that I am not a religious person and to be totally frank with you- I think it's basically a bunch of hooey... I wanted to read this book badly. The description sounds fantastic, doesn't it? But I am nothing if not honest...I was really underwhelmed by the book.First off, you know right away that Carlene is SMART. Like she's the super smart girl in class that has few friends, is socially awkward, but you just know is going to be doing something requiring brains. And she does. She's incredibly educated and just meant to be writing. So points for her for getting her career right the first time. But with that, she kicks herself in the foot. Which is my way of saying- if you are going to write a book, sometimes you have to dumb it down. Mostly because I was not happy with having to look up words. I'm not joking, I had SUCH a hard time reading this book because of how she structures paragraphs and uses words I have only maybe heard on national spelling bees. Yikes. (Fun secret- I love how she has no problem with admitting her love with Sylvia Plath. Ugh- if you haven't ever read The Bell Jar then you need to hustle to the library. Stunning piece of work. But I really love Sylvia Plath and like Carlene, am always braced for the looks you get when you admit that.)With all of that out of the way- it's not a must read. I felt like she really didn't tell a story. Sure, she was confused about religion and how to abide by the constraints of how she was raised but still enjoy the college experience without permanently damming herself to Hell or purgatory or whatever. But seriously- figure it out. And stick with it. I don't know what the purpose of this book was because honestly? The back cover description was so deceiving. And I didn't find it hilarious. I didn't crack a smile through the whole thing.But the parts I did find endearing? Were her relationships with guys. Now, you don't really ever know if she dated these guys. Plenty of guys were into her and she didn't know it and through the book you just want to shake her and say KISS HIM ALREADY but she doesn't. And then doesn't understand that pushing a guy away isn't really an invitation for him to kiss you. Which is true for a lot of young women, so if you are like that then you might relate better to this book than I did.My thing with memoirs, which I love, is that I like to leave the book feeling like I am walking away with something to think about in my own life, or feel like I had connected with the author through their story. I don't feel that way with this one and that's a bummer because I wanted to really like this book. And I don't think this could be even construed as an attack on religion or Christianity at all- I think it is the normal plight with people who grow up thinking that maybe the things you grew up on are not how you want to live your life....then trying to reconcile that.So while I didn't enjoy it, it doesn't mean that you won't. If you are a lost 20-something, this may be for you. If you are conflicted with the beliefs you grew up with and trying to make those fit with the lifestyle everyone around you has- this may be for you. If you've read this I would like to hear your take on it.

  • Pamela
    2019-03-31 12:04

    I read this memoir directly after Bauer's novel Frances and Bernard. Bauer grew up in an evangelical Protestant family in New Jersey, attended a Catholic college, and eventually converted to Catholicism while living in New York City. At the end of her account 9/11 has occurred and her faith is wavering, possibly extinguished, but she seems to hold open the notion of a return. At the heart of this book is the tension between the desire for worldly experience and pleasures and the desire to remain an observer and skeptic, a kind of noncombatant as it were. She wants love (who doesn't?) and hopes to have it on her own terms. Bauer's sentences are rich and supple, and she has some wonderful set pieces where she really lets loose--one prompted by a guy at CBGBs who reacts to her outfit by telling her, "Nice prom dress." Quoting Liz Phair, Bauer calls herself "shyly brave," and, yes, that's how she comes off in these pages.

  • John
    2019-03-22 11:46

    Elegantly written, self-deprecating, and smart -- a winning combo. I'm biased, but trust me on this one.

  • kelly
    2019-04-03 12:06

    I loved the first part of this book, which had me cringing knowingly and howling with nostalgia at all the late-80s/early-90s Christian culture: “...bloody-minded evangelicals entranced by their own game of Risk, feverishly speculating on the fates of the countries on the board with Revelation in one hand and the newspaper in the other.”And THIS, this is also a deeply-ingrained instinct I find hard to rid myself of, which I’ve never found such perfect words for: “[I] scurried away at the slightest discouragement, and if I was given a lead, the fear of rejection would keep me from following up on it. Christianity had taught me that reaching out your hand for what you wanted, since it might entail pushing someone else out of the way, was selfish and impolite” (cf. Nietzsche).She goes on and on about how conservative her upbringing was. But then suddenly she’s the kind of high schooler who declares she can’t abide anyone whose weekend plans didn’t involve art in the city. And there our paths diverge*. They continued to diverge as I found it increasingly difficult to relate to her line of thinking (and feeling) and got tired of being in her judgmental, anxious head. While the writing is really excellent in places, this petered out into just a 2-star “okay” for me by the end.* Look, my high school self would have loved weekly art plans. I’m just saying I wasn’t that cool and my particular sub-culture was heavily shepherding me towards much more pious weekend plans.

  • Jo
    2019-03-26 08:11

    You know how sometimes, when you're talking to your friends about something and there's a word you want to use and you just can't think of it? You can think of what it starts with, or maybe how many syllables it has, but you don't know what word it is. And then your friend randomly come up with the word you wanted to use, sometimes hours after you gave up and finished your thought and moved on. Sometimes, reading Not That Kind of Girl was like that, only instead of just providing one word that I needed, Bauer was providing the words for whole thoughts that I find myself unable to articulate.Other times, Bauer left me confused, mostly in her comparison of Lutherans and Catholics. My perception of the Lutheran and Catholic churches were the reverse of hers. I don't know if this is because Bauer's confused or because I am, or maybe just because her Lutheran experiences were with Missouri Synod churches (please excuse me whilst I shudder), while I grew up in a Lutheran church that scorns the close-minded, sexist, homophobic, bigoted tendencies of the Missouri Synod. (If I'm going to go to a dartball match, it will be to play dartball, not to serve lazy old men food.)In still other places as I read this memoir, I wanted to ask Bauer why she was telling me this. What about this experience that you've included in your life story is important enough that you feel the need to share it with all your readers? What did you take away from this event that you felt you absolutely must communicate it to any person who picked up your book? Which, I suppose, is something that will inevitably come of reading a memoir.Approached as a novel, this book was an acceptable distraction during my train ride home (but would not receive any glowing recommendations); but when I remembered that it's a memoir, I suddenly felt that I needed to take something away from the book that would make reading it important, that would make the reading influential to how I behaved. I originally decided to read Not That Kind of Girl because the description mentions Bauer's willingness to abstain from sex and drugs, and because my own religious views are so in conflict with the views of others that I thought it would be interesting to see how another young religious type attempted to reconcile living a full life (as opposed to living a life that largely involves hiding) and staying religious. I was sorely disappointed, since the short explanation is "She gave up."(This is where the spoilers start.) By the end of the memoir, Bauer had lost her virginity and her religion, and I had lost my faith in her as an advocate for the alternative (as in me, not as in rock, or new age, or whatever) female. The only thing I felt besides disappointment by the time I finished the book was a staunch determination to "rewrite" the ending by living my life the way I feel like the book should have ended. (Which sounds weird, but that's mostly because I'm not articulating the idea very well.) As I get further away from my reading of this book, my mental impression of Bauer dilutes, and I like her and her book less and less.

  • Marty
    2019-04-19 10:02

    NOT THAT KIND OF A GIRL is a memoir of a girl who is not that kind of girl, basically. I wanted to love this book. Because until, oh, the age of 23 or 24, I was also not that of girl. I liked recognizing the similarities between us, realizing that my younger self wasn't alone in the goody-too-shoes, hates being late, worries about doing "bad" things - like drinking - approach to life.I didn't love it, though, and in fact didn't really like it. My major complaint is that this book is just not honest enough for me. For example, in the last third of the memoir, she meets a man, whom she refers to as her "friend," who is the person she first sleeps with after managing to hold out on having sex for years in NYC. And - no details on this. I mean, I don't need graphic details - but I felt like after reading about her keeping her virginity for 200 pages, I deserved to know WHY she finally decided to give it up. Did she just want to get it over with? Was there something special about him? WHAT WAS IT?This is only one example, but in a lot of ways, I didn't feel like I got to know the author at all, despite spending a week of my life reading her story. I know a lot of what she's writing about is private - which is why I think her story would have been better a) fictionalized, as a novel; or b) kept private. So overall, this was just okay.

  • Mary
    2019-04-08 06:11

    It turned out different to what I was expecting. I had read the reviews in various catholic papers of this memoir about a catholic girl trying to live her faith in NYC. I found her faith journey interesting until she lost it and then there was an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I hoped that it would turn around but the ending made me sad. There were so many guys mentioned throughout the story that I couldn't keep up with them all. Sometimes a guy would re-enter the story but I couldn't work out which one he was or what had happened with him, but it didn't really matter because nothing really happened with any of them. I suppose from that aspect, I can relate. It made me think of my own story if I was to write a memoir and there would also be a lot of guys with which I probably has a trivial connection with but nothing of interest happened with. Maybe I would have enjoyed the book more if my expectations has been different, but at the end, I just feel disappointed.

  • CMolieri
    2019-03-31 10:59

    I was entertained by the book until just beyond the midpoint and then the author really started to grate on my nerves. Bauer is trying to reconcile a liberal life with a Christian identity while also finding the God of her dreams in New York and maintaining impossibly high expectations for life in general. As interesting a story line as this may sound, it crumbles into annoyance and confusion with the character and the gaping holes in the plot as we watch the author plunge into the stereotypes she so desperately tried (and nearly succeeded in) avoiding throughout her college and post-college lives. It's a coming of age ten years too late, which is sad because I don't think the author intends for that to be one of the primary voices speaking from between the covers, but that's what you end up with.

  • Jen
    2019-04-12 09:01

    I'm giving up on this book halfway through. I was hoping it would be about how "a good girl" maintains her values and sense of identity. Instead, I felt like I was watching "Grease," and that Bauer is less introspective in a memoir than Sandra Dee in a musical.She writes as though she's the first person ever to struggle with reconciling her liberal education with conservative Christian mores. (I'm sure all college students feel this way, and frankly, it's just self-righteous.) Finally, she's just another conflicted Christian who really is "that kind of girl." Sigh.P.S. Reading this book is like reading a muddled grocery list. One of her paragraphs goes on for over three pages and ends up being a messy example of why only really great writers can pull that off.

  • Lauren
    2019-04-18 06:51

    A beautifully written book that lets you crawl into the soul of its author and share with you her faith, her fears, her ambition and her questions about life. It's incredibly powerful to read a book by a woman within striking distance of my age who put her faith in books, in Brooklyn, and in questions she felt couldn't be answered by another party or another long conversation. It's brave to talk about God and religion when you're made to feel that smart girls don't fall prey to Belief. And that spiritual and personal wrestling is a difficult thing to discuss in any circle. It's a quiet book that continues to shake after you've closed the book.

  • Joanne
    2019-04-12 10:54

    Great book about growing up in the shadow of Philadelphia, in South Jersey and a great inspiration to me in her analysis of religions and God in her life, she has inspired me to start reading the bible and it was a great and interesting read about college life, being an English major, and setting forth to NYC and living, working and dating there.....I enjoyed this book a lot and hope she writes more books, because she is an excellent writer and I am going to read more of her writing at

  • Kristally
    2019-04-15 10:48

    I have been struggling to finish this for two weeks. Unfortunately, I can only stay awake for a page or two at a time. The problem is, to me that the entire book seems like Ms. Bauer is screaming "I AM SMART! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ALL OF THE AUTHORS I HAVE READ! LOOK HOW CLEVER AND VIRTUOUS I AM!". I find it both dull and aggravating. I can't remember who anyone is in this book because I truly don't care. If I didn't feel obligated to finish it for my book group, it'd be in the goodwill pile right now.

  • Stacey
    2019-04-09 04:54

    I had high hopes for this one, I really did, and I wanted to like it, but she's just too much. Too whiny, too indecisive, just too much. I found myself irritated with her.

  • Dominique White
    2019-04-06 11:48

    Another Anne still awaiting her Gilbert What a frustratingly narcissistic read this is, quite unlike the gorgeous "Frances and Bernard", yet arguably equally as beguiling. I accept that when an author sets out to write a memoir it is unfair to raise the accusation that the result is a self-centred piece of prose. Nevertheless it took all of Carlene Bauer's wit and talent to turn this tale of failed romances into a reflection on adulthood's loosening grip on unrealistic expectations of God, self and others, gained in girlhood. Without doubt the excuse "Not that Kind of Girl" has been used as a trump card umpteen times by many a Christian girl to get out of a dangerous move in the teenage game of flirtation. It was little surprise to learn that Carlene Bauer considered herself as quite naturally not the kind of girl to have meaningless sexual relationships as an adolescent. What I found less comfortable were the later allusions to her not being the kind of girl who wants to make it big as a career woman. And what eventually upset me was her loss of faith, making her not the kind of girl who believes in God - or, perhaps less starkly - not the kind of girl who goes to church to find Him. Once more I found myself challenged by this author with whom I share the same birth year as well as many other similarities which make her touch so many raw nerves.The 4 stars are for stellar reflections, descriptions and anecdotes which pepper an otherwise tedious list of near miss happy endings, leaving the reader with charming images of her seventeen year old insecure self as someone who had it in her to "crack up in some spectacular way, [her] soul spilling everywhere like a tumbled glass, all the broken shards giving [her] an irresistible glitter"; with descriptions of preachers laying out sermons as if they were laying down a wall brick by brick; of evangelical churchgoers using stock phrases that were passed around "like a contagion" with no "reflection on this habit, no idea that God deserved better than clichés"... I could go on and on quoting from this memoir. Yet for all the charm in such clever writing displayed in the precocious memoir, I can't help feeling sad that she is another daydreamer who lost her head to Gilbert Blythe as a child and who hasn't got the nerve to be Chris Guthrie or the stamina to be Anne Elliot. Perhaps the fact she based Frances Reardon on Flannery O'Conner is a sign that Carlene Bauer has since found someone solid to admire?

  • Leah Pomposo
    2019-04-02 09:01

    I absolutely found the words to some of my thoughts and experiences written in this book--words that expressed my own circumstances. Granted it's not the ultimate "mind opening, discovering a new philosophy about life manual," however, I am shocked by the similarities of our questions about divinity and spirituality and familiarity of our outcomes. The author and I do not exactly come up with the same conclusions nor do we have the same thought processes, but we had very similar "fundamentalist" evangelical Christian upbringing that brought about going to several Christian schools--including the "Pace Method", the part where a student went and read on his own and raised a Christian flag when he wanted to ask a question (this was the most ridiculous of all teaching techniques that I have ever encountered. By the way, we also moved around often just as the author). I can finally see evidence that I am not alone in doubting the Christian faith and I am not the most awful person for doing so (This is a loaded statement. A statement that I would explain if asked but it is far too extensive to explain although if it was the nature of my fondness for this book would then come out. If it strikes your fancy, just let me know. I would not mind discussing).Yet, Christianity has left me with many of its teachings that I seem to use a bylaws consciously or not in my decisions and actions.One in particular, my views on sexual freedom. I, too, had a coming of age experience right in the heart of New York City and I incessantly came across people that seemed to think that it is through sexual freedom and experiences that one completes one's ability to experience life and living fully. I found it hard to defend my stance on the opposite. How was I able to show that my intellect nor my worldliness are neither compromised by lack of experiences in this field? Until I read this book. The author is smart, insightful, a seeker for more, a passionate person but she, too, feels/felt this way. It is comforting to know that it is not a contradiction to be all these things.I read the other reviews for this book and I do agree with most of them. However, if you are "Not That Kind of Girl" you will find that there might be more of us than many of us think.

  • drey
    2019-04-10 06:13

    I'm not usually into memoirs, unless there's something about them that really perk my interest. And Carlene Bauer's Not That Kind of Girl perked my interest. Probably because I wanted to see how someone raised fundamentalist Christian adjusts to a coming-of-age in New York City.Bauer's writing is at times poignant, at times self-effacing, and witty throughout. It captures her search for self-identity--especially when unwrapped from doctrine and dogma--and the questioning that goes along with the search. Who am I, really? What do I stand for? Who do I want to be? How do I be her, without losing the me that I've been all along? Then again, what part of me do I need to let go of, to get where I want to go? And what if that part isn't a part of me that God wants me to let go?Immersed in philosophical discussion, Not That Kind of Girl brings you along on Carlene's journey to her version of happiness, from her childhood and teenage years, to college and beyond. I enjoyed its intellectual stimulation, even when I felt that there were gaps that weren't explained to my complete satisfaction. Because it's all about me, right? *wink*

  • LeighKramer
    2019-04-18 07:49

    I hadn't heard of Bauer prior to attending the Festival of Faith and Writing. She was on a panel session I attended and I decided to give her memoir a chance as a result. Bauer was an English major and it clearly shows, from the literary references to the big words, some of which I got and some of which I didn't. She's smart and so is her memoir. While it's framed as a coming-of-age post-evangelical upbringing, I didn't see many similarities between our faiths growing up, which is fine but perhaps makes for some unevenness. It's more about Bauer's anxieties and insecurities than whether and how she believes. She is unflinchingly honest about herself, commendable, but it made it hard for me to relate to her because I didn't understand many of the things she did, said, or thought. Still, it's a compelling, well-written read. I'd give it 3.5 stars.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-12 06:58

    I was very excited when I started this book because I could really relate to the author - at first. She grew up in a pretty strict Christian home and went to Christian schools up through Junior High, but always felt that there had to be "...more than one way to live the Christian life." (p. 34) Once she gets to college she struggles to figure out how Christianity will play out in her life. As she gets older she turns more and more away from God and into meaningless, short-term relationships. Overall, it was depressing and sad to read how she felt like God had nothing to offer her, but yet everything she was doing with her life wasn't making her happy either. The first few chapters were funny and interesting and then it went sharply downhill from there. I would NOT recommend this one.

  • Carly Thompson
    2019-04-16 12:14

    Very literary memoir about sex and god. Carlene Bauer grows up in evangelical religious family in New Jersey (not hardcore fundamentalist -- they still listen to pop), later converts to Catholicism as an adult in her twenties in NYC, and then falls away from active worship. She navigates adulthood as a shy, bookish virgin until entering a sexual relationship with a man who remains unnamed.The prose style of the memoir was its most defining feature. Long, knotty sentences dripping with descriptions and illusions to books and indie rock music of the 1980s and 1990s. It was harder to get a sense of the characters. Some remain unnamed and others blur together. I don't know if I would recommend this book to many people. There are lots of ideas thrown in the mix but not a lot of specifics. It will appeal to readers who read for language and atmosphere.

  • Laura
    2019-04-19 08:00

    At this point in the book, the protagonist is listening to Morrissey, shopping at trash and Vaudville, and going to CBGBs. I am supposed to be learning about another world, not reliving my own youth! Just kidding... the world inside my head is indeed different from hers. Furthermore, she feels quite out of place in my old haunts, and believes the staff knows she doesn't belong there, an experience I never had. Indeed, shopping at T&V with a pentacle around your neck is a diffent thing altogether, and the staff was always welcoming to me. They helped me find my first pair of vegan Doc Martens, the velvet kind....

  • Kay Carman
    2019-04-19 08:59

    I read a review of Not That Kind of Girl in Book Page a couple of months ago and was intrigued by the memoir classified as Christian biography. Bauer is a young woman steeped in religion, coming of age, questioning the faith of her childhood, and expanding her range of experiences as she navigates college and then moves on to New York to try to make it as a writer or working in the publishing business.She moves away from her faith altogether for a while, converts to Catholicism, and then turns away completely in the wake of 9/11. I started out really liking her and rooting for her. By the end I felt disappointed for her.

  • Kristi
    2019-03-31 06:10

    I was really excited about this book, until I got 2/3 the way through it and realized it wasn't going to live up to its potential. I too find myself neither "that kind of girl" or NOT "that kind of girl". Caught between being too religious for the world and too worldly for the religious, I was hoping to find a true kindred spirit in Bauer. The author portrays a luke-warm view of both "the world" and God, and never seems fully invested in either. The premise is a worth-while concept, and maybe Bauer isn't really finished with her journey in discovering where she lies on the continuium, but, nevertheless, I couldn't bring myself to finish the book.

  • M
    2019-04-03 10:12

    I understand the limitations of a memoir, but nevertheless, I felt this book could have been much better than it was. It needed to be more focused, pared down. Some of her observations are extremely astute and she can certainly turn a phrase; however, I kept waiting for a moment of insight or point to the book. Was she happier then? Now? WHY did she write this book? Certain key points were glossed over entirely - she went from being "not that kind of girl" to being a stereotypical New Yorker in her thirties and the transition, which one would think would be the central point, was never explained/analyzed.

  • Becky
    2019-04-15 07:55

    I'm inclined to like just about memoir I pick up. Everybody has a story, and I think everybody has an interesting story. So does Carlene Bauer, but this book about her struggles with religion in her first 30 or so years lacks an emotional pull. The way her religious upbringing affects her decisions about men in college and beyond seems more clinical than relatable. The parts that should be funny aren't very funny, and the parts that should be touching aren't. With such great subject matter, this should have been a much better book.

  • Allison
    2019-04-20 06:05

    Too much ruminating, not enough action. I like memoirs that explore religion, but not at the expense of the true form of memoir. This book would have been better written as an essay or a nonfiction "informational" book. I read 2/3 of the way through but finally had to give up hope that a narrative would ever build out of the tiresome "and then I did ___ and I thought ___" format. Interesting insights into living with a religious upbringing and moving to NYC, but not interesting enough to make me finish the book.