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Caitlin Moran: How to Build a Girl

Johanna lives in Wolverhampton with her once upon a time musician father, post-natal depressed mother and her four brothers. She has to get out. She has to reinvent herself and build herself into a girl she thinks she’d like to be. This journey takes her into music criticism, sex, love and more sex. But once you’ve built yourself into the girl of your dreams who’s to say you’ll like who you’ve become?

Author: Caitling MoranImage result for how to build a girl publication date

Title: How to Build a Girl

Press: Ebury (Penguin)

Date of Publication: 2014

Date of Purchase: December 2018

RRP: £8.99

Price of Purchase: £2.50

Reading Time:  5 days

Rating: 7

This is not a full review of this book because many of my reactions and responses were deeply personal and if I’m honest I’m still processing. Maybe when I’m older, braver and more secure I will follow this up with a better, fuller and more insightful commentary but for now here are some of my thoughts.

How to Build a Girl was funny without losing its gritty realism. The narrative voice of Johanna was convincing and her development was mapped into it so clearly as to read almost as a diary. The sights and sounds of the era were evoked precisely and were intricately woven into the plot without feeling forced of contrived.

The depiction of Johanna’s financial position was drawn up precisely as I would imagine a child would and this helped to balance her when she began expressing more adult themes. There were constant reminders that in her rush to grow up she was skipping crucial life lessons and was perhaps cheating herself of the ‘normal’ adulthood she craved.

I really enjoyed this book, I felt that the characters, time and place were beautifully constructed and that Johanna in particular was, to me, so close to a real person that I recognised her in myself and in others. How to Build a Girl could be read as either a fairly light romp or as a close feminist interrogation of the sexual education of young women in this country. It is this double depth which I found particularly appealing.


Featured Image: Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels

Bottom image: Photo by Vishnu R Nair from Pexels

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