How to Build a Girl

How to Build a Girl

by Caitlin Moran

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062335999
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/23/2014
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 22,340
File size: 677 KB

About the Author

Caitlin Moran’s debut book, How to Be a Woman, was an instant New York Times bestseller. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, received widespread acclaim. She lives in London. You can follow Caitlin on Twitter: @caitlinmoran

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How to Build a Girl 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Chancie More than 1 year ago
The plot felt a little thin outside of her sexual conquests, but the themes are so, so important, so for that, I appreciated it. Certain elements aren't exactly spelled out for you by the end, and some of it is more subtle which worries me that maybe it could be lost on some readers, but if not, it's powerful. Majority of it is very funny, and even as a grown woman, it's easy to relate to.
JS Wilson More than 1 year ago
How to Build a Girl. Where do I start? This is a story we're all familiar with: coming of age, the question of who we are and where we belong in the world, the pursuit of self-discovery. This is the tale of a fourteen-year-old girl's whimsical odyssey from Johanna Morrigan, the lonely, poverty-stricken, desperate virgin, to Dolly Wilde (inspired by Oscar Wilde's scandalous alcoholic niece), a rebellious, gothic, legendary music critic and "full-time Lady Sex Adventurer". A rather blunt and at times shocking account of adolescence, How to Build a Girl is full of wit, adventure, and a lot of masturbation. (At times, a little too much!) However, beneath the humorously written story of youth and self-reinvention, lies a deeper exploration of social classes, the place of women in 1990s society and the issue of double standards. Johanna is branded as "filthy", and a "massive slag" by one of her numerous, selfish sex partners, who refers to her as his "bit of rough". After overhearing this, Johanna resolves to listen to, respect and prioritise her own desires more often, to have sex with "more me in it". I admired this novel for how daring it was, and while at times it was certainly a little shocking, I loved that Moran was so open and honest in contrast to a lot of overly flowery and unrealistic coming of age novels. Life is never perfect and Moran certainly didn't depict it that way. She didn't hold back for fear of seeming "controversial" or vulgar and I feel that deserves respect. I thought this was a hugely entertaining portrayal of youth. Johanna was such a typical teenage girl and a truly hilarious protagonist. I'm filled with zest & a desire to read more of Moran's work!
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TheBibliophilicBookBlog More than 1 year ago
HOW TO BUILD A GIRL gives us Johanna Morrigan, a 14 year old girl who doesn’t fit in her family and doesn’t fit in her skin. After a particularly embarrassing moment in the spotlight, she decides she doesn’t want to be Johanna Morrigan anymore. She reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde, music reviewer and Lady Sex Adventurer. She is determined to fix her family’s money troubles with her writing. By 16, she’s drinking, smoking, having sex, and working for a music paper giving nasty reviews to so many bands they all fear her sharp tongue now. Yet somehow being Dolly is not enough to make Johanna happy, but she doesn’t know what is missing from the way she’s built herself. HOW TO BUILD A GIRL is a coming of age novel set in the early ‘90s featuring Johanna Morrigan, an overweight bookworm who is socially awkward, with 4 brothers and her family on the dole. HOW TO BUILD A GIRL is funny, irreverent, raunchy, and heart-breaking. While all of us have to decide who we’ll be as we grow up, adding and discarding traits, the author points out how much more difficult it is for girls to explore their secret desires and fears. An outrageous feminist manifesto with sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, HOW TO BUILD A GIRL will speak to something primal inside all readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
Johanna Morrigan is a fourteen-year-old overweight “nothing” who recreates herself over the summer as Dolly Wilde, adventurous and fun-loving music critic. She is desperate to find a way to save her family after their government assistance is reduced and devises a plan to become a music critic to make money. She is also obsessed with the idea of sex and losing her virginity, and begins to work hard at resolving this situation. She builds herself, then rebuilds herself, and rebuilds again. Johanna lives at home with her dysfunctional parents and siblings. Her father is an alcoholic dreamer who supports his family on government assistance while he drunkenly awaits his big break into music. Her mother appears to have given up on life, suffering from post-partum depression after the unexpected birth of twins. And she finds herself at an awkward stage with her brother Krissi, where he is pulling away into adulthood (and away from her oafish behavior), and Johanna finds she misses him. The story starts when Johanna is fourteen, but fairly quickly it jumps a few years to Johanna at seventeen as her recreated self Dolly Wilde. I appreciated the idea of recreating yourself in this image of who you wish to be-- especially for a young person who hates themselves. However this book felt annoyingly juvenile at times. It was a little too "YA" for my taste. I found myself being simultaneously amused and somewhat bored by both the characters and the story. When trying to put my finger on the the feeling, I thought, "It feels like laying around in a hammock on the weekend, bored with nothing better to do, and watching a bunch of pre-adolescent kids being obnoxious and entertaining themselves. If there were something better to do, I'd get up and leave." The story was very crass and childish. I'm not saying that it was "offensive", as I'm not easily offended, and I in fact love a little crudity in my characters. However this story was just crass and juvenile, and I found myself mentally shaking my head as I would if this girl were talking to me in person, wishing she would mature, because despite her embellished accomplishments, she was very immature. Perhaps that is part of the problem for me. My mother always told me that I was "born to be 40" when I was a kid. I was always mature for my age. So while I "get" aspects of this novel and can see my juvenile-self in certain moments, overall I was never this immature and couldn't identify with much of it. But I do issue a heavy warning to those who are easily offended. The book is full of vulgarity, distasteful references, coarse behavior, and sexual situations. So tread carefully. This book actually consisted of some decent writing which had the ability to move the story along at a steady pace. And it was a peculiar story, which gave it a little interest, but I found it essentially lifeless. It was just "okay" for me-- a momentary distraction that I will quickly forget.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book a lot I want to die with it.