How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) – Review

About the book, How to Build a Girl How to Build a Girl

• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: Harper (September 23, 2014)

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 Brontës—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 the 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.

Buy, read, and discuss How to Build a Girl

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Caitlin Moran Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran was named the Columnist of the Year by the British Press Awards in 2010, and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011 for her work at the Times of London. Her debut book, How to Be a Woman, won the 2011 Galaxy Book of the Year Award and was an instant New York Times bestseller.

Connect with Caitlin

Website | Twitter


My Thoughts

If I hadn’t gone to a performing arts high school (and been an only child in an upper middle class American family) I might have turned out very much like Johanna – depressed, and never quite fitting anywhere. As it is, I’m certain that I’ve met this girl, or girls like her, when I’ve worked with high school students.

Fourteen is a difficult age, especially when nothing else in your life is remotely ‘normal,’ and Caitlin Moran captures the angst and alienation of the teen years incredibly well, then surrounds Johanna with a cast of eccentric, often annoying, but never boring characters, and the sense of glimpsing a world that’s not quite as pretty and happy as our own is only enhanced.

And yet, as much as Johanna and her family are imbued with a sense of otherness, there’s also something profoundly, painfully, viscerally REAL about them that makes you want to alternately hug them and shake them until they come to their senses.

This book is gritty, even grim at times, and yet it’s also a brilliantly written coming-of-age story with elements of snark and black comedy that should not be missed.

Goes well with Fish and chips and a really good craft-brewed lager.


TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the more information, and the complete list of tour stops, see the list below or click HERE.

Monday, September 29th: BoundbyWords

Tuesday, September 30th: The Scarlet Letter

Wednesday, October 1st: Fourth Street Review

Thursday, October 2nd: Lit and Life

Tuesday, October 7th: The Steadfast Reader

Wednesday, October 8th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, October 9th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Friday, October 10th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, October 13th: A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, October 14th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, October 15th: guiltless reading

Thursday, October 16th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

Friday, October 17th: Books à la Mode

Monday, October 20th: Consuming Culture

Tuesday, October 21st: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, October 22nd: The Whynott Blog

TBD: Book Addict Katie

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) – Review by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 thoughts on “How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) – Review

  1. Pingback: Caitlin Moran, author of How to Build a Girl, on tour September/October 2014 | TLC Book Tours

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