I am now 10 chapters into How To Build a Girl and it’s time to check in again. Beware spoilers through chapter 10 below. So far, things are still going well! I definitely have a girl crush on Caitlin Moran who is both the reason I consider myself a feminist and the reason I’m happy to tell you I consider myself a feminist. In How To Be a Woman, she had me in stitches almost the whole book – an impressive feat given that she also made me think about many important issues. How To Build a Girl is living up to the hype that created for me much better than I expected. Caitlin’s same sense of humor is there, perhaps slightly less often given the need for narrative, but there are definitely parts that have me laughing out loud. Even though this is fiction, I feel like Caitlin’s character’s story has the same refreshing feel of raw honesty found in her memoir. I know it’s not real, but it’s such an intimate look at a character’s life, I still feel like she’s a real person telling me her story.
This may sound like a bad thing to the many of you who relate to the main character, but… I don’t especially relate to the main character. I echo what other read-along participants have said about the value of seeing a girl wanking in a book. I think young girls who are experiencing Johanna’s crazy hormones deserve to have character’s in books they can relate to. However (and given that my mom reads this blog, this is the most I will ever share pertaining to me and sex), I was not especially aware of or interested in sex and dating until undergrad. Even then, I never experienced Johanna’s obsession. I do relate a bit to her desire to reinvent herself. I started public school in 8th grade after being home schooled for 6 years. I was wearing glasses, braces, and to top it all off, a back brace for scoliosis. I was the odd one out. However, most of my reinvention focused on my appearance and my ability to relate to others. Throughout it all, I feel like I always had a strong sense of who I was, my core self, which Johanna seems to be lacking as she reinvents her interests for the outside world. It seems like she does actually find herself a bit in music though, so perhaps that’s too harsh.
I am extremely interested to see where this new interest takes her and to hear what the rest of you think about her decision to quit school. Part of me empathizes with her so much that I want her to be able to quit school and do something she loves. Part of me just wants to punch her parents. I don’t believe everyone needs to go to college, but high school seems like a bare minimum to me and I think her mom should have held Johanna to that. Despite not always relating to Johanna, I do feel for her and I really hope everything works out. I can’t wait to read more!
This read-along is being hosted by Emily at As the Crow Flies (And Reads) so you can check out what the other participants are thinking so far at her link-up.