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How to Build a Girl [Paperback]

Caitlin Moran
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 July 2014
What do you do in your teenage years when you realise 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, 14, 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 Brontes - but without the dying young bit. By 16, 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 realises 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, with a soundtrack by My Bloody Valentine and Happy Mondays. As beautiful as it is funny, How To Build a Girl is a brilliant coming-of-age novel in DMs and ripped tights, that captures perfectly the terror and joy of trying to discover exactly who it is you are going to be.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (3 July 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0091949025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091949020
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Brilliantly observed, thrillingly rude and laugh-out-loud funny" -- Helen Fielding "I have so much love for Caitlin Moran" -- Lena Dunham "Binge-read all of #HowToBuildAGirl in one sitting. Even missed supper. A first" -- Nigella Lawson "spirited coming of age novel romps from strength to strength.I'm a Moran fan" -- Lionel Shriver The Times "She writes with breathtaking brio.Moran shows her shining soul - which is even more remarkable than her wit - when she writes about being young, looking for love and the utter vileness of the class system ...almost every page has something on it which makes you smile, makes you sad or makes you think - often all three at once, in one sentence" -- Julie Burchill The Spectator

Book Description

The number 1 Sunday Times bestseller, the debut grown-up novel from Caitlin Moran, bestselling author of How To Be A Woman. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You've read it already....... 8 July 2014
.....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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Really disappointing. I was hoping for a well-written, decent novel, as Moran's columns are always a great read, but this seemed to be written on a 'write-whatever-springs-to-mind-and-edit-it-later-oops-ran-out-of-time-so-it-didn't-get-edited' basis. Such a shame - I had been looking forward to it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Here we go again... 26 Aug 2014
It’s ironic that a novel about a young woman who becomes a music journalist is like listening to a monkey endlessly pounding out the same two notes on a piano.

Moran is a good writer, stylistically you cannot fault her, but her subject matter has now officially not just worn thin, but completely and utterly worn through. Despite the disclaimer at the beginning, this is really just a warming-over of her own story, already well and truly milked in How to be a Woman and squeezed even further dry by her columns.

The only thing that I can see is different between her own life is the number of siblings. As is well documented, Moran is one of eight, in this novel there are “only” five children, with the youngest twins. Mercifully, this lets the reader off of her regular entrenched proselytising about the welfare state and her belief that having almost a football team of children when you have no hope at all of financially supporting them at all is some kind of noble enterprise.

Most worrying of all is the ending; it is left quite open, with the heroine’s move to London. I have a feeling that this is not the last we’ll hear of Dolly Wilde.

Water finds its level; Moran is unlikely to rise any furhter than this until she finds some new subject matter. Even enfants terribles all need to grow up some day.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A typically funny read from Caitlin Moran, although I could have done without the frequent references to the subject's frantic teenage masturbation...especially when conducted rather disturbingly next to her younger sleeping brother.

I was also disappointed to find a duplicated passage (literally word for word) from Moranthology - the description of her job interview with a newspaper and joke about the line from the film Annie. I haven't finished the book yet so am hoping there won't be any more repetition.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By anna m
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Five stars to How to be a woman, same or thereabouts to Moranthology, and I LOVED Raised by wolves on the tellybox. But reading the same story again just felt dull, and a bit sad.

There is far too much evidence for me to think of Moran as a one trick pony. I'd just recommend any fellow fans to avoid this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will be hooked after the first few pages 31 Aug 2014
Caitlin Moran was brought up on a council estate in Wolverhampton. She
became a journalist on the Times, probably the poshest newspaper in the
world, at the age of 18. Consequently she works alongside a fair
sprinkling of the upper class public school boys who have all the
positions of power in the country. She is unique in thinking Michael
Gove is not a waste of space. Her reason for this, however, was that he
knew the name of the hamster Freddie Starr was alleged to have eaten!
(Teachers believe it is a pity he didn't know anything about education).

The title is a postmodern reference to the idea of constructing and
reconstructing the personality. What is different about this book is
that the idea is for the first time rooted in the realities of class
society. It is indicative of Caitlin Moran's style that the difficulties
of masturbating while sharing a bed with a sibling feature as an example.

A book which deals with the effects of poverty while growing up in
Wolverhampton and the cruelty of the benefits system sounds like a
"worthy" book which socialists would read out of a sense of duty rather
than an expectation that they will enjoy it. *This is not that book!*

The narrative veers between pathos and hilarity. You will recognise the
bitter anger against the treatment of the poor one minute and be
laughing your socks off the next.

It is an "adult" book. This means that teenagers will love it and some
adults will think it is totally unsuitable for teenagers to read.

I leave that judgement to you. Just read this book. You will be hooked
after the first few pages.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Undemanding pleasurable read.
Jogs along nicely. An enjoyable read.
Published 1 day ago by water buffalo
1.0 out of 5 stars How to Commit Intellectual Suicide
Alternate Titles.

"How to Be a Woman, Revised Edition"

"Sorry Sixteen"

"Drugs, Sex and Dolly Roll (in the Hay)"

"A Teenage Tale: One... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Chris Roberts
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not aspirational, but educational (for the most part!)
Despite the fact that the protagonist's experiences were unconventional to say the least, Johanna was exceptionally relatable. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Rh
5.0 out of 5 stars page turner
I disagree with anything negative that's been said about this book, Caitlin moran is a unique writer and a very interesting one.. Up there along with Judy blume & Jodie Vivienna. Read more
Published 2 days ago by marie
2.0 out of 5 stars Not really my thing, but well written
Read this on a recommendation. Don't really think I'm its target demographic. Teenage soul searching relieved by some funny moments
Published 3 days ago by John H
5.0 out of 5 stars Actually laugh out loud funny.
I even laughed at the acknowledgements. Pure pleasure. Including the sad bits. Absolutely going to buy How to be a Woman as soon as I get off this page.
Published 4 days ago by Algy
5.0 out of 5 stars read it!
Funny and refreshingly honest account of growing up - without the gloss! Caitlin Moran's writing style is witty and believable and once you start her books you want to keep on... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Susan Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out Loud!
Just outstanding! All those things you felt growing up but couldn't accurately put into words or voice is death with by Caitlin Moran in a way that made me laugh out loud and not... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Ann C.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Writer and this is a Great Read
Received within a couple days ! Well packaged !
A great Writer and this is a Great Read !!
Look forward to reading other title's from this
Author !!
Published 10 days ago by Mike Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent again :-)
Another brilliant book did not disappoint. Only shame is that I have now read all of her books so will have to wait for the next one.
Published 12 days ago by binky B
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