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 Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.

My Review

You know you are in for a wild ride when you crack open a book and one of the first lines in the first page of the first chapter is "I am not asleep." " I am masturbating." Yep, and from this point on the book only gets crazier and crazier. Joanna's father is one of those dads that you either like or don't like. There is no in between. Then there is Joanna's mother. I liked her a lot. She told it like it was. Finally there is Joanna. She is just like a typical teenager. She always has something to say. Often times without a filter. Also, Joanna seemed to have lits of angst. Which again could be because she is a teenager. I like that she did not let her "plus" size status keep her from being shy. A word that I would not use to describe Joanna. Thus the reason for the language. There is lots of language. However I was not offended by it because it actually had a purpose and was not just used to be used.

OMG line in book page 114 as quoted by Joanna's mother because Joanna was being dramatic about her job. "Maybe you could work in Argos as a prostitute." "They could list you in the catalog, and people could queue up and wait for you to come down the conveyor belt."

About this author

Caitlin Moran had literally no friends in 1990, and so had plenty of time to write her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of fifteen. At sixteen she joined music weekly, Melody Maker, and at eighteen briefly presented the pop show 'Naked City' on Channel 4. Following this precocious start she then put in eighteen solid years as a columnist on The Times – both as a TV critic and also in the most-read part of the paper, the satirical celebrity column 'Celebrity Watch' – winning the British Press Awards' Columnist of The Year award in 2010 and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011. The eldest of eight children, home-educated in a council house in Wolverhampton, Caitlin read lots of books about feminism – mainly in an attempt to be able to prove to her brother, Eddie, that she was scientifically better than him. Caitlin isn't really her name. She was christened 'Catherine'. But she saw 'Caitlin' in a Jilly Cooper novel when she was 13 and thought it looked exciting. That's why she pronounces it incorrectly: 'Catlin'. It causes trouble for everyone.


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