Oh Caitlin Moran, where to start? Your wit? Your humour? Your eyeliner? All are consistently awesome. Though maybe I should stop before this gets a bit like a certain Dolly Wilde article (#spoilers) and just say I’m a bit of a fan.
This is my second delve into one of Moran’s novels, How To Be a Woman was *que slightly ashamed head tilt* the first real book or even article on feminism I’d ever read; it remains to this day one of my favourite books, massively thought provoking while being ridiculously funny but I digress; the point is I finally got round to reading the latest offering and was not disappointed!
So, how to summarise without ruining everything for you, Johanna Morrigan is a 14 year old who simply wants a little bit more than her current lot in life; sound familiar? I’d be surprised if most people didn’t relate to her even a little bit; but personally it almost creepy. Johanna wants her life to be like a film; she wants to make something of herself but (let’s be honest) unlike most of us she decides to do something about it. She becomes the character which inside her head she believes she needs to be and starts to live, professionally at least as Dolly Wilde. Through Dolly and a shit-tonne of eyeliner she finds the confidence to start pursuing her dreams of writing and finds herself thrown into the new, exciting world she thinks she’s always wanted to be a part of.
More than the actual plot of midlands teenager becomes London journalist, this supposedly semi-autobiographically novel is about a girl growing up, about personal discovery and what I love the most about Moran’s writing is that she doesn’t fluff things up or round off corners. The situations Johanna finds herself in throughout How to Build a Girl could be real and they’re written honestly, sometimes shockingly honestly. As someone who was once a teenage girl and has subsequently become an adult woman there are so many things I look back on and wish I could have done differently; there were so many points through reading this I wanted to shout aloud at the book “Don’t. Just don’t.” and continued to read through cringey giggles.
Being fairly local to Wolverhampton the constant local references made me smile, but I imagine they’d be just as amusing and relatable to anyone outside of the midlands.
I found it addictive from the off; if you’ve not read it I highly recommend heading down to your local book retailer and reading the first two pages. I actually tried this with my boyfriend who’s summary of the start of the book was that it contained the best metaphor for the Berlin wall he’d ever heard – and no I won’t explain, just go find out.