Your Own Kind of Girl by Clare Bowditch – Book Review

It should be no surprise that Clare Bowditch, a leading Australian musical artist who has composed some of the most diaristic and moving lyrics in recent years, is an excellent storyteller.

What does take us aback is that her confidence was hard-won. I’ve got to say, it was well worth the fight.

‘Your Own Kind of Girl’ is a memoir of her childhood and coming-of-age up until she had her first child and is on the cusp of immense success. The book is devoted, roughly in equal parts, to personal obstacles she faces (normal hurdles and incessant thoughts that won’t F-off!) and also the techniques she uses to overcome them.

In the Epilogue she writes;

We don’t get to choose the circumstances into which we were born. We don’t get to choose our genetics, the weather, not even what time the train is going to arrive. We don’t get to choose space, or time. Try as we might, the only person we get to choose to save is ourselves.

Bowditch’s internal dialogue as a child and young adult was ripe with ritual, and also self-flagellation.

Beyond stepping over cracks (which she also did), she would count in patterns to soothe herself, tap her feet and developed a complex around weight, and self-worth, which lead her to monitor diet in what you might call a disordered state. And yet, with all this neurosis in tow, dealing with teenage-girl-politics, boys and moving schools, she managed, nay thrived, in finding creative best friends and extended family, joining a band and diving head-first into her first big love relationship.

Unfortunately, her anxiety left unchecked lead to a mental health crisis when she took her maiden solo-trip to live in London.

It is a harrowing few chapters to take in, you want to reach out and help her. But happily, this book is about healing and what follows is a journey towards self-care. As she says herself ‘I started to feel lighter inside. I wanted more of that in my life – less worry, more play. I saw my habit of worry was like an addiction ­– reminding myself of what was wrong with me, instead of what was right with me.’

From her youth she was compelled to sing, whether it sounded good or not, and another formative compulsion was to record her thoughts on cassette tapes, tucked privately in safekeeping under her bed. It wasn’t until much later she would feel bold enough to think these were important stories to impart. And they are.

As well as personal growth this book follows her transformative creative experiences, like being in an intimate audience to Jeff Buckley, trying out almost every subject from basket weaving to ceramics, theatre and dance in a liberal arts degree, and feeling brave enough (a few times over) to get out her guitar and sing original songs at open-mic nights which lead to kinship and affirmation that she is indeed, special. Reminding us of this, even when she’s writing about hard times, each chapter is headed up with lyrics that Bowditch has composed but are re-applicable in hindsight. This is a nice touch and speaks to her self-awareness.

This memoir is a fantastic read for Australian music lovers, people interested in people and for those of us plagued by negative self-talk or doubt.

You can buy the book here, and please note that by following this link we will receive a small commission.

Bowditch’s website is worth a look in. She has a ‘fun stuff’ page because while we might feel sad sometimes, there are still joyful moments to be had and fun feelings which want to be felt. Enjoy!