Caitlin Moran's new book, reviewed by TEARAWAY Maverick TIERNEY REARDON.
Johanna Morrigan is fourteen years old, and she is tired of being herself; a clumsy, goofy girl who finds humiliating herself all too easy. Her family is poor – on a disability benefit they don't need – and her father is unemployed, planning to one day make millions with a single chart-topping song.
Johanna wants to make something of herself – to become famous, to help her family, to be effortlessly successful. The plan is simple; she will rebuild herself.
Late at night, Johanna builds her taste in music, listening to library records and an ancient radio. She begins to send music reviews in to magazines all over the country, reviewing one album or artist every day for a month. Slowly, with eyeliner, library books and a plan, Johanna builds her new self; Dolly Wilde.
It's not long before Johanna/Dolly has a job at a music journalism team, D&ME, and is being sent to gigs with backstage passes. She is making friends, writing successful articles and the old Johanna Morrigan is all but gone. However, there are still problems. She lives in fear that her family will be caught out and will live in poverty. Things get more complicated when D&ME send Johanna to Dublin to interview celebrity John Kite.
Life is moving dangerously quickly, and Johanna is acting before she thinks. Is she going to destroy the new life she's given herself before it's even begun?
How to Build a Girl is a coming-of-age story written by the award-winning author of How to Be a Woman. Johanna is a main character that you will find yourself genuinely caring about, even when she makes mistakes. She is not a perfect Mary Sue, which I think is what makes her so likeable.
This book is definitely for older readers, as it contains some rather mature material, but it's a book than both teens and adults will enjoy. The dark humour, the excellent quotes and the strangely brilliant characters are all reasons why How to Build a Girl is a must-read. The characters aren't fleshed out, but they still seem completely real; the tiny details that the author carefully crafts bring Johanna's family and friends to life.
At times this book is a little difficult to believe, but aside from these moments, How to Build a Girl is a stunningly honest and real story that refuses to be put down. A story of growing up and following your dreams; of mistakes and learning, and of first love and far too much eye makeup; Caitlin Moran's new book will inspire you to make a plan to make your life better; because sometimes the only person in your way is yourself.