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How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

How to Build a Girl (2014)

by Caitlin Moran

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5643617,647 (3.64)53

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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran is the story of Johanna Morrigan, growing up in a dysfunctional family in Wolverhampton, England. Her father is an alcoholic failed musician and her mother, having recently given birth to twins, is suffering from post-natal depression. The rest of the family consists of an older brother, a younger brother, and the twin baby boys. Johanna manages to wangle herself a job as a music critic at the age of sixteen and so along with her story, there is the constant backdrop of early 1990’s British music scene.

I actually found myself laughing out loud at parts in this book that are entirely too improper to repeat here, although it’s fair to say that masturbation comes into play a lot. Johanna’s mission in life is to reinvent herself from an overweight, kissless virgin into a too-cool-for-school hipster. She writes under the name of Dolly Wilde and poses as a hard drinking wise-cracker. Yet this book also had the ability to tug a little on the heartstrings. Her eccentric family was well developed and came across as real. This was a family that cared about each other.

Although the author clearly states that this is a novel, I am led to believe that there are many similarities to her own life experiences. Whatever the case, How To Build A Girl was an engaging coming-of-age read that I thoroughly enjoyed. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 4, 2017 |
This was good, and funny, and freaking fantastic to have a teenage female character be so blunt and matter of fact about masturbating, but a very small detail overshadowed the good parts for me: I don't understand how the main character could possibly afford a laptop in the early 90s. Those were supremely expensive, and it's odd how this wasn't flagged by editors or proofreaders. Her family was poor. Where did the damn laptop come from? (Plus heavy and bulky then, but it seems to be kind of a Macbook Air in this novel.) ( )
  spuriouscarrie | Feb 11, 2017 |
Ben Babcock's review is so thorough and on-point that I'll just direct traffic straight there if you want an overview of why this book is so fantastic.

Why not five stars then? For one, because Moran's memoir How to Be a Woman got five stars from me, and this book doesn't quite reach that level. How to Build a Girl is great; How to Be a Woman is brilliant. For a second, more concrete, reason: there was a point a few chapters from the end where I was convinced that this very good book was going to work its way up to a brilliant finale and leave me a sobbing and shuddering mess--and then it just didn't. The ending isn't bad by any means. I just thought it was going to be more powerful than it was.

But mostly, I'm just being stingy about doling out my five star ratings since I've given them away too freely in the past. It's a great book. You should read it. The content is mature, so I wouldn't give it to a very young person, but otherwise, I think everyone should read it. It's not just for the ladies. If anything, it's the gentlemen who ought to learn how terribly difficult it is to be a girl. ( )
  StefanieBrookTrout | Feb 4, 2017 |
Wow. What a roller-coaster. Emotions to burn here. Rude, crude and disgusting. Hilarious and yes laugh-out-loud like it says on the cover. Profoundly sad. Gut-wrenching sometimes. And yet, such a romp. So much fun. So much EMOTIONAL RANGE!! I need a drink. ( )
1 vote PhilipJHunt | Jan 24, 2017 |
Fun, light, quirky but in many ways unrealized. I have been feeling a need to read less serious books lately -- the current global political situation has me maxed out and needing levity. This was a perfect pick for those purposes. The viewpoint is lefty, feminist, working class, and smart, and that is viewpoint that is surely lacking in popular fiction. Many of the characters are wildly exaggerated to elicit giggles and that is unfortunate. Moran makes her father, her brother, and her idol ridiculous, and the book would have been better if she had not done so. Still worth a read for anyone who loves random sex and good music. ( )
  Narshkite | Jan 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
How to Build a Girl is, in essence, a very British story about class and social privilege. American readers may have to work a little to get the sly social references and regional English. But it's well worth the effort.
added by Widsith | editNPR, Ellah Allfrey (Sep 29, 2014)
I wish someone had given me this rowdy and fearless little book when I was 16. […H]er comic novel is sloppy, big-hearted and alive in all the right ways.
There are some retreads of Moran's past themes – material that seems a tad overfamiliar. […] For all that, the novel is an entertaining read, with Moran in fine voice – hilarious, wild, imaginative and highly valuable. After all, how often do we get to hear the inner voice of a fat, funny, literate, working-class teenager from Wolverhampton? Quite.
added by Widsith | editThe Observer, Barbara Ellen (Jul 7, 2014)
I was rocking with laughter in the library, crying with love on the tube. […] Yet when I see this book described as "laugh-out-loud funny" I feel affronted; it could make you laugh out loud with one hand tied behind its back, while wanking itself off to fantasies of Satan. Laughing out loud is just the start.
added by Widsith | editThe Guardian, Zoe Williams (Jul 3, 2014)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062335979, Hardcover)

The New York Times bestselling author hailed as “the UK’s answer to Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, and Lena Dunham all rolled into one” (Marie Claire) makes her fiction debut with a hilarious yet deeply moving coming of age novel.

What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Bröntes—but without the dying young bit.

By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease. How to Build a Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:15 -0400)

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