#onthebookshelf How To Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

9780091949006 (1)

I am a massive fan of Caitlin Moran.

She fights for libraries, shares my love for Twitter, is cool without trying to be (but probably tried really hard to be when she was younger making her normal which infinitely makes her EVEN COOLER) , comes from a  working class background and pin points the little everyday things you thought were idiosyncratic about your families, and your lives.  She has an opinion on the crap on the telly, the war on terror, periods, the housing market and well, just about everything that matters and more importantly doesn’t matter. Oh and she’s hilarious.

Basically, when I grow up, I want to be Caitlin Moran (the dream is slowly dying, I’m 22 and it hasn’t yet happened)

Since joining Ebury @ Random House in October, How to Build a Girl, Moran’s fictional (adult) debut, has had me all edge of my seat jittery, my thumbs have been wanting to well thumb the book since I heard of it, my Kindle wants a download- in other words, I was really excited to read it.  Moranthology and How to Build a Woman, her first two books (non-fiction), have been my Bibles over the years.  They are a strong voice of sensibility and hilarity that I’m sure most girls, men and well, everyone can relate to at some point or another. Luckily I managed to get 1 of 300 proof copies and finally got to read it before plenty of other people! One of the perks of working in publishing.  Although, until now, I’ve not been able to utter a work about it.

How to Build A Girl has all the best elements of her nonfiction stuff but with the added ‘story’ aspect.  It’s a classic bildungsroman tale of teenage angst, packed full of absolutely cringe worthy tales of embarrassment and brutal honesty.  Moran, through her portrayal of her heroine, Johanna Morrigan, gives a true insight to the world of female teenage confusion, frustration and emotions.  You’ll find yourself comforted that you weren’t the only 15 year old doing all these things meticulously described by Moran as well as secretly horrified that you were not the only person doing all things meticulously described by Moran describes too.  Moran’s skill highlighted to the maximum of its capacity right there comes into her detailed exploration of a popular adolescent pastime- masturbation.

It reads a little like a female’s Adrian Mole, and I imagine in the coming years will be a similar cult classic. Johanna is hilarious in her teenage awkwardness, her dad hateful for his  shameless rinsing but lovable too in pursuit of his dream out of the working class gutter he seems trapped in and if you grew up poor, the scenes in which ‘Dolly’ realises she’s her father will leave you glowing with pride too.

My only criticism of Moran’s semi-autobiographical novel (and I suppose it should be expected) is her recycling of anecdotes, notably the Annie scene when she accepts her first job).  As a big Caitlin fan, you always want something new so though hilarious to imagine, it was kind of like, ‘yeah, I’ve heard this before…’

Minor criticism though.

For some reason, I imagined Johanna Morrigan as Rae from My Big Fat Diary, the E4 series, all the way through reading this. Even when she transforms into Dolly Wilde.  Great stuff though and as always, Caitlin pinpoints exactly that being a girl is literally like building something; putting together parts and tweaking and oiling and sometimes, when the machine you invented breaks down, taking it all apart, and starting again.

Published July 2014 by Ebury Press.  Click here to order on Amazon


Also, recently I met Caitlin Moran (still hyperventilating) and she was even more brilliant in person.  She likes cheese toasties FYI (but then again who doesn’t), talked about wanking off with a weetabix, and i spent the entire time trying not to vomit on her because I had food poisoning. Seriously, I was sweating and my legs were shaking. Still in my top three moments of working in publishing though.

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