The debut grown-up novel from Caitlin Moran, bestselling author of How To Be a Woman…
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.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
I've been a fan of Moran's ever since I read her hilarious story in the British press about trying to learn Beyonce's All the Single Ladies dance routine. She is a one-of-a-kind talent, untamed by success, outspoken, mouthy, with a wild and brilliant voice on just about everything. And now she's tackled fiction. Despite an author's note at the front of the book it does seem that she is using her own life story as material: she is, like her heroine Johanna, a girl raised on a housing estate in Wolverhampton with ambitions to write about music and go to London. In the novel, Johanna leaves behind a sarcastically sharp-tongued mother and a hopeless father who is just a demo tape away from success and fails to recognise her brother is gay. She also has sex with a man with an overly large member and makes inept attempts at self-harm. It's a roller coaster ride of chaos, insecurity, longing and drugs in I'm-with-the- band land. This is rock 'n' roll meets Jeanette Winterson. Julie Burchill without the vitriol. Or as Moran herself puts it, The Bell Jar written by Adrian Mole. Raw, rude, irresistible and very funny.
About the Author
Caitlin Moran was brought up on a council estate in Wolverhampton where she was home-educated, wore a poncho and had boys throw stones at her whilst calling her 'a bummer'. She published a children's novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of 16, then became a columnist at The Times at the age of 18 which, yeah, looking back now is kind of weird. At one point she was Columnist, Interviewer and Critic of the Year - so in your face, 'bummer' boys. Her multi-award-winning bestseller How To Be a Woman was published in 25 countries, was a New York Times bestseller and won the British Book Awards Book of the Year. Her second book, Moranthology, was a Sunday Times bestseller. With her sister, she co-writes the Channel 4 sitcom Raised by Wolves.Caitlin lives on Twitter with her husband and two children, where she spends her time tweeting either about civil rights issues, or that picture of Bruce Springsteen when he was 25 and has his top off. She would like to be remembered as 'a very sexual humanitarian'.
"spirited coming of age novel romps from strength to strength...I'm a Moran fan" -- Lionel Shriver The Times "rude, big-hearted, wise-cracking novel" -- Christina Patterson The Sunday Times "a Portnoy's Complaint for girls... when I see this book described as "laugh-out-loud funny" I feel affronted; it could make you laugh out loud with one hand tied behind its back, while wanking itself off to fantasies of Satan. Laughing out loud is just the start" -- Zoe Williams The Guardian "an entertaining read, with Moran in fine voice - hilarious, wild, imaginative and highly valuable...Moran is in danger of becoming to female masturbation what Keats was to Nightingales..." -- Barbara Ellen The Observer "Moran also writes brilliantly about music, and especially about what music can do. She carries Johanna through this novel with incredible verve, extravagant candour, and a lot of heart. Johanna is ... a wonderful heroine. A heroine who cares, who bravely sallies forth and makes things happen, who gives of herself, who is refreshingly unashamed. She's so confident, it's glorious" The Independent on Sunday
For Ages: 15+ years old
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 1st July 2014
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.8 x 13.7 x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.38
Edition Number: 1