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How to Build a Girl Hardcover – 3 Jul 2014

264 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (Fiction) (3 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091949009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091949006
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (264 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"spirited coming of age novel romps from strength to strength…I’m a Moran fan" (Lionel Shriver The Times)

"rude, big-hearted, wise-cracking novel" (Christina Patterson The Sunday Times)

"a Portnoy's Complaint for girls… when I see this book described as "laugh-out-loud funny" I feel affronted; it could make you laugh out loud with one hand tied behind its back, while wanking itself off to fantasies of Satan. Laughing out loud is just the start" (Zoe Williams The Guardian)

"an entertaining read, with Moran in fine voice – hilarious, wild, imaginative and highly valuable…Moran is in danger of becoming to female masturbation what Keats was to Nightingales…" (Barbara Ellen The Observer)

"Moran also writes brilliantly about music, and especially about what music can do. She carries Johanna through this novel with incredible verve, extravagant candour, and a lot of heart. Johanna is … a wonderful heroine. A heroine who cares, who bravely sallies forth and makes things happen, who gives of herself, who is refreshingly unashamed. She’s so confident, it’s glorious" (The Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

The number 1 Sunday Times bestseller, the debut grown-up novel from Caitlin Moran, bestselling author of How To Be A Woman

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 119 people found the following review helpful By E Silheit on 8 July 2014
Format: Hardcover
.....only with different names. This is basically How To Be a Woman all over again, only the heroine's surname is Morrigan not Moran. Actually had to stop a couple of times to check I hadn't accidentally picked up the other book by mistake. There is not much new here.

Moran is a very funny writer, but please. Also all the reviews calling it a "debut novel"? Come on, she's been writing books for decades. She is essentially the female Kingsley Amis: you get the same entertaining, but far too familiar book again, and again, and again. How many home schooled working class 90s teens from Wolverhampton do we need to hear about for her to acknowledge, we got the point?

This seems to be written for adults who want to read the YA fiction they wish they had in the 90s instead of real books. OK for all that but I expected more. Moran has a lot of talent. Here's hoping someone pushes her to write about something other than herself next time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Noyes TOP 100 REVIEWER on 21 May 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
4.5 stars

The author begins this book by saying emphatically that this story is NOT based on her own life or character. But if you know Moran's work through Raised by Wolves or her other non-fiction work How to Be a Woman, it feels instantly familiar and a smooth continuation of the same character’s story. Sorry Caitlin, but the subjects are so close to each other, the setting and happenings so similar, it's hard not to make the comparison. But that's not to the book's detriment. I loved it.

Johanna Morrigan is our Girl, she's a Wolverhampton council estate teen, who wants to be a music journalist. Taking the Bull(ring?) by the horns, she sends off her work and manages to land herself a job. Johanna leaves school in Wolverhampton for London life, but only after deciding she needs a life makeover and transforms herself into wildchild and party girl Dolly Wilde. Will this new identity serve her well?

Johanna experiments within her new identity, discovering alcohol, drugs, and sex among other things. And a note here: fairly explicit sexual scenes, though funny as hell! Her job allows her to review bands, but she writes mostly evil reviews of bands she doesn't like. Which of course will not bode well for our heroine.

The book is a series of one hilarious exploit after another. Through it all, we can see her losing herself and her direction, it flirts with darkness as we watch Johanna / Dolly being used (it is quite sad and frightening in what COULD happen to her) –she is, after all, only 17.

Back at home in Wolverhampton, Johanna's family are just as enjoyable and eccentric as we see in Moran's other writing - a possibly gay brother, a Dad who wants that ‘one’ big hit from his own music, a bolshy Mum overtired from new twins.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Beth on 26 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is How To Be A Woman - re-named, re-packed and re-cycled as a shallow money-making exercise by Moran and her publishers.

It's almost as if she went through all the discarded notes/entries for HTBAW and used them here. Lazy, unconvincing and - at times - a bit sexist.

Couldn't she have at least have changed the story location from Wolverhampton? I'm amazed the editor didn't demand this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ancient Mariner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Feb. 2015
Format: Hardcover
When I read the forward and preface to this book I admit I was concerned that I was about to read the earnest, heartfelt, and completely uninteresting prose/blog of a bright, sincere teenager. Boy, am I a dope, or what?

This book is, in fact, earnest, heartfelt, sincere and bright. It is also searingly funny, completely engaging, bawdy, rowdy, and brutally honest. This is not a lost-to-drugs-and-back story, or a tale of redemption after hitting bottom, or a melodrama fancied up with some new age or self-help wisdom.

It is an honest, rueful, deadpan story about growing up, spiced with exaggeration for effect, naughty bits, some cutting self examination, a few romantic touches, and lots of cheerfully lacerating observations about life, families, society, and the music business.

This only works, or at least it will only hold book length attention, if the reader can connect with some fundamentally sound aspect of the narrator. I'm not doing 300 pages of train wreck. I might do 300 hundred pages of funny train wreck. I absolutely won't go near 300 pages of poor-victim-me train wreck. Well, this author, (or, actually the character she created), can come over to my house, drink too much wine, and tell stories all night, and that will be fine by me. (Actually, the actual author can come too, since she's probably alright as well.) (By the way, the heroine's name is "Johanna Morrigan". "Morrigan" is a figure from Irish mythology and is considered the goddess of 'battle, strife, and sovereignty'. Could there possibly be a better name for this character? No. For that touch alone you should read this book.)

But this is not just an extended stand-up comedy act or a string of clever zingers hung together to look like a novel.
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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Ethel Shaw on 9 July 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of Caitlin and wanted to like this, bug it was a big disappointment. It covers the exactly same ground as the autobiographical 'How to be a woman' and Caitlin's sitcom 'Raised by wolves', ie being an overweight, unpopular teenage girl raised in a large, poor family in the Midlands. Caitlin only seems capable of writing about herself - which works well for her column, but not for what is supposedly a work of fiction.

This book really doesn't have much in the way of a plot, and I suspect it would never have been published if written by a lesser-known author. At times, the writing felt forced. I read that Caitlin really struggled to write this book, needing lots of encouragement and intervention from her publishers, and I suspect it's because she's already written extensively about the subject matter and had nothing new to say. How much can you milk the experience of being being poor/living in a big family before people get bored? Well, I'm bored. And this book came across as a cynical money-making effort rather than a work of true creativity.

If you haven't already read it, I recommend the excellent 'How to be a woman' instead. If you have already read it, don't bother with this 'new' book, which is truly nothing new.
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