Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How to Build a Girl

Not for the faint of heart (or critic of a well-placed curse word), Caitlin Moran has written another gem for the masses. I recently read Moran’s first foray into novel writing, How to Build Girl. I don’t want to receive any angry comments if someone takes my recommendation and runs with it, so please understand the book is a bit vulgar. However, it is also one of the funniest, well-written books I’ve read in 2014. I dare say it might even be my favorite book of 2014.
In case you aren't familiar with her, Caitlin Moran is an award winning columnist and author hailing from the UK. She has previously written for The Observer and The Guardian, but is currently a columnist for The Times, where she landed her first column at the age of eighteen. In 2011, she was voted Columnist of the Year at the British Press Awards. More importantly she’s becoming one of the loudest voices in the crowd for this generation’s feminist leaders. She’s brash, intelligent, and not afraid to share her thoughts.
How to Build a Girl follows the construction (or reconstruction) of Johanna Morrigan from age fourteen to early adulthood. After embarrassing herself on TV and feeling like the world is moving on without her, Johanna reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking and unafraid. Johanna uses her new persona to take risks and build her new life. She begins a rigorous course of music education by borrowing albums from the public library with the intent to become a writer for a music newspaper. Johanna, as Dolly, lands a job and the adventure begins. However, the deeper Johanna delves into her new life, the more she realizes that a new name, new look, and new music will only take you so far.
This book is one of the most awkwardly accurate portrayals of growing up that I've read. Though I can’t remember the exact quote, Moran spells out that building yourself comes from the bits your parents give, though you can’t totally be the girl they build, bits you collect and emulate, and bits that are inherently you—you need it all to build a girl. She said it much better than I can. If you become a fan of Caitlin Moran's through her fiction, I encourage you to check out her nonfiction book How to Be a Woman. To me, the two are a pair.


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