How To Build a Girl Read-Along – Part 2

July 21, 2014 Blogger Events 7

caitlin moran

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.

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7 Responses to “How To Build a Girl Read-Along – Part 2”

  1. Rayna

    I can relate to parts of Johanna’s story, but definitely not every bit. I definitely had fantasies of becoming a different, cooler person when I was in high school (they always involved showing up at school in a convertible, top down, with a celebrity boyfriend… I was a very unoriginal teenager), but I think Johanna’s life is meant to be an extreme — very few people would actually change their names or drop out of school in order to be that new person. And certainly very few of them (maybe just Moran herself) could find instant success in their dream job.

    And YES to wanting to punch her parents.

    • DoingDewey

      Good point! She does sometimes seem like a characiture of a teenagers to me, more extreme than reality in many ways. I love reading about her, she’s just so entertaining, but I do think her extreme reactions make her less relatable.

  2. Ellie

    I don’t feel like I relate to her hugely either. There are some aspects that I think ‘hell yeh, I’m with you there’, but others are just too different. I like this though because I’m not sure I’d truly enjoy it if it felt too much like reading myself on the page.

    • DoingDewey

      That’s an interesting though. I wonder if I would like it more or less if she reminded me exactly of my teenage self. I think it really might just be creepy!

  3. Kayleigh M

    I relate to Johanna a lot, but it’s less “wow this was exactly my life”. It’s more that through Johanna I can remember certain highs and lows from my own adolescence that helps me connect with her. Although some parts just straight match up with terrifying accuracy.

    My mum would have murdered me if I tried to leave school. My mum is incredibly supportive, but there is no way she’d let me do that even if I did have a swanky magazine job lined up.

    • DoingDewey

      There’s no way either of my parents would have let me quit school either! If she turns out to be successful despite leaving high school, I’ll be a lot less likely to recommend this to younger readers. I really think everyone should complete high school and would hate to recommend a book that suggests high school isn’t necessary.

      • Kayleigh @ Comma Enthusiast

        Yeah, that. Johanna’s relatability is more, like, philosophical than technical or factual, for me.

        And I’m with you two on the school thing. I’m hesitant to make sweeping generalizations but, finishing high school will rarely be a negative, right?

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