The first time I read this title, I thought this was going to be a really cool book I could read and then be a super awesome parent to a young girl, and maybe she'd read it and feel all inspired and empowered.
And then I read the first page and holy hell- do not let a young girl read this. HA!
How To Build A Girl - Caitlin Moran
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 Girlis a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.
Page one starts with her masturbating. No, I know, it's OK to spit out whatever was in your mouth, because I did that as well and got Pepsi all over the first page of my book. The general consensus of the few friends who read Caitlin's first book (I haven't, so I can't really compare the two) and who have read this one is that this one isn't nearly as good as the first one. Which I think is OK because the follies of being a teenage girl are many, but the follies and tragedies of being a young woman? Oy vey. We've all be there. What I will say is that I thought this book was funny, and I generally don't find things that are supposed to be funny, funny at all. This is why I avoid comedy shows because if your intent is to make me laugh? I probably won't. I hate jokes and funny stories in general. But this? This book had me chuckling, and laughing in a few parts.
The only thing that I felt was kind of... strange, was how hard the feminism horse was beaten. I mean, that horse was dead by the end of the book. And while I would consider myself a feminist just based on the basic principles, this kind of thing is kind of a turn off for me. It feels a little bra burning to me in some parts so that made me groan a bit and roll my eyes.
But let's talk about how completely filthy and inappropriate this book was, because honestly, it's one of the best qualities of this book. I consider myself to be a bit brash at times and I can definitely be a dirty bird when needed, but parts of this book made even me blush and think not a chance in hell even I would say that!
Overall? I thought it was funny. I thought it was different, I thought it was catchy and the funny parts made it hard to put down. Do I think it's something I'd let my (future) teenage daughter read? Not a chance in hell. But I can appreciate the teenage frustrations in this book as an adult because it's in the past and not my present day. Now, if I were a teenager reading this, I think maybe I'd feel a bit differently about the book. So I think if you have someone on your holiday list (shut up, don't be in denial, it's coming whether you are ready or not) that likes funny, brash, and kind of filthy humor? They need this in their life.