Tag: Moranthology

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Posted September 24, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 0 Comments

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin MoranTitle: How to Build a Girl (Goodreads)
Author: Caitlin Moran
Published: Harper Collins, 2014
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult
My Copy: ARC from Edelweiss

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Take to trip back to the 1990s, a time I am all too familiar with; the music was great but being a teenager was not all that it was cracked up to be. Johanna Morrigan is a fourteen year old who is unhappy with her life. That was until she decided to reinvent herself. By sixteen she was a sharp tongued goth, aspiring music journalist who went by the name Dolly Wilde (named after the socialite). How to Build a Girl is the debut novel by Caitlin Moran who is more popularly known for her views towards feminism in books like Moranthology and How to Be a Woman.

I will be honest; the only reason I picked up this book was because it was often described as The Bell Jar if it was written by Rizzo from Grease. I’m a fan of The Bell Jar and this was enough to get me curious about this novel. I can’t say I have ever been a fan of Caitlin Moran or her view points but I think her underlying message that no one should be judged for being who they are is something I can get behind.

Moran has made it clear that this is far from an autobiographical novel; her parents were never like Morrigan’s parents. However there is an element of this novel that probably reflects her teenage years. I think the teenage years are often a journey of self-discovery and reinvention and this was the main reason I wanted to read this novel.

It doesn’t matter if I agree with Johanna Morrigan’s choices and decisions; this was about her finding herself. The whole notion of self-discovery being similar to reinventing yourself is an interesting one and I enjoyed watching Dolly Wilde evolve into the person she wanted to be. Her parents and family often got in the way and tried to unintentionally (or maybe it was intentional) mould her personality. This was just an interesting journey to watch evolve.

I’m not going to talk about the feminist views within this book, it is not my place to agree or disagree. How to Build a Girl reminds me of the TV show Girls (or what I have seen of it) and if you are a fan of this show then maybe you will enjoy the novel. My biggest problem with the book was not with the feminist themes but with the writing itself; it never seemed to work for me and I felt like the intent was to shock rather than tell a good story. It is a shame, the premise is excellent and I could have enjoyed the book if more time was spent improving the proses and editing.

I wanted to love this book; the whole coming of age, self-discovery, and sexual awakening topic has always been an interesting one to me. This book started off with the best intentions but it lost its way, both in plot and writing. The rise and fall of Dolly Wilde (the character in this book, not Oscar Wilde’s niece) was worth reading but there is so much in the middle that could have been taken out and the novel would have ended up being less than a hundred pages. But these are my opinions; there are people that loved this book, I wasn’t one of them.