[ARC Review] How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Title: How to Build a Girl
Author: Caitlin Moran
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary, Coming of Age
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: September 23rd 2014
Publisher: Harper
Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Amazon | Indigo | TBD | Goodreads

What do you do in your teenage years when you realise 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, 14, 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 Brontes - but without the dying young bit.

By 16, 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 the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realises 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, with a soundtrack by My Bloody Valentine and Happy Mondays. As beautiful as it is funny, How To Build a Girl is a brilliant coming-of-age novel in DMs and ripped tights, that captures perfectly the terror and joy of trying to discover exactly who it is you are going to be.

I have wanted to read this book since I heard about it last years. I love Caitlin Moran, she is a great comedic writer and I lover her honestly on every subject she talks about. She when I saw that she was writing a book about growing up and becoming a woman I knew i needed to read it.

I loved Caitlin's way of writing the main characters voice, it was very stream of consciousness that made so much sense for a teenager, on many occasions I actually felt like I was inside her head and feeling the same things she was. I will be honest when I say that the writing style of VERY honest. Caitlin leaves nothing out and touches in many subjects including, masturbation, teen sex and dropping out of high school to pursue a career that many would think would lead nowhere. I loved this honestly and I felt very proud that she mentioned these kinds of things because I think in our society today girls are not looked at like that, and it was refreshing to see a character that was so real and forthcoming with these topics.

I had some issues with this book though, and one of them was the use of British slang. at time I had no idea what was happening because I honestly didn't get what the characters were saying. It made for a very hard read for me. I found myself taken out of the story on more than one occasion because I didn't get it. I didn't get what the characters were joking about and I didn't get what they were s concerned about because I wasn't in on the vocabulary they were using. Speaking of vocabulary, the characters in this book use the C word on so many occasions that it left me feeling very uncomfortable. I am very against that word and grew up hating it so seeing so many times, and being used so relaxing made me a bit weary of this book and its characters. 

Overall the story was great and very interesting, but there were times I was so removed from the story and its characters that it was hard for me to connect to what was going on and feel what the characters were feeling. I loved the authors ability to talk about such taboo subjects but ultimately this book felt a bit short for me.

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  1. Oooo!! I am a massive Caitlin Moran fan :D Especially 'How To Be a Woman'! That book made me feel so empowered. Caitlin Moran is my femenist inspiration!! I've been longing to read 'How to Build a Girl' ever since I put down Moranthology but it hasn't come out in paper back yet and as a teenage girl... I'm poor! I'm from Britain so I know the slang won't bother me in the slightest :D As for the swearing! I completely agree, especially when its unnecessary and especially when it is the C bomb
    Anyway! Amazing blog, I thoroughly enjoyed it :D you have a follow from me every way I can x