Book Review: Caitlin Moran's How to Build a Girl

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Johanna Morrigan is a girl of bigs: big mouth, big dreams, big boots. It's 1990, she's sixteen, and things are starting to get in full-swing, but Johanna isn't part of it. She's still in school, living with her parents and excessive amount of siblings in the Midlands, enduring her father's alcoholism and unmet dream of becoming a music STAR. In an attempt to escape the 'boring' mayhem of her life for one of more 'interesting' mayhem, she goes about trying to find a dream, embarrassing herself in the process. She resolves to reinvent herself, killing Johanna Morrigan to be reborn as Dolly Wilde, music journalist, sex goddess, heavy smoker, and all-round badass (in her eyes). 

How to Build a Girl takes us through Joanna's transformation into Dolly, and takes us to London where she starts her career whilst still in her youth as an infamously loud-mouthed, cynical music journalist. We she her embarking to become a non-virgin, eager to become a mythical sex goddess before she's even kissed anybody, with some hilariously awful results (the best resulting in her spending an entire party sitting clothed in a bath). From this description, you probably don't need telling that this book is incredibly filthy, with raunchiness that brought tears of laughter to my eyes. (Also if you're offended by overuse of the 'c' word, this is NOT for you.)

I really enjoyed Moran's first foray into fiction. Although nothing special in the way it was written, I enjoyed the voice she used for Johanna and found it very accurately reflected somebody of that age. Caitlin clearly has some very clear memories of being a teenager to be able to so accurately write as one in this book. Her passion for the subject matter and love for her own character balanced out a very average style. It was fun reading from the perspective of somebody I clearly have a lot of differences to, and it did feel eye-opening for me to various ways of living that I hadn't really thought about before. All-in-all, a fun, quick, and sassy read with a main character you can't help but love despite her poor decisions and impulses. I'll be picking up Moran's non-fiction book How to Be a Woman soon, hopefully.

M x

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