How to Build a Girl
By Caitlin Moran
@SPL: FIC Moran
Time, now, for your librarian to admit a bias: If Caitlin Moran releases a book, I put a hold on it to see about giving it a review. I can’t help myself – I love her infectious, positive, raucous energy, and I want everyone to know it’s out there for you to hold.
If you enjoyed Moranthology, or her previous book How to Be a Woman, chances are strong you’ll love How to Build a Girl, too. Although How to Build a Girl is a work of fiction, it’s just as punk rock as anything she’s written before.
Protagonist Dolly Wilde has a lot in common with Moran – she comes of age overweight and poor, living in subsidized housing in the post-industrial wasteland of Wolverhampton, UK. Like Moran, she finds a ticket out by becoming a clever music columnist for an indie music weekly in the ’90s. Also like Moran, she finds freedom in going on “lady sex adventures” and generally behaving like all the boys in her field, steadfastly trying to ignore the scurrilous judgment that comes when a girl adopts that lifestyle. So. This book may not be for everyone. If you like a nice, gentle read, you should back away now.
That said, if this book is for you, it’s really for you. Dolly’s struggles to create herself in a male-dominated field and world will ring true to any woman with a wild side who’s just trying to have as much fun as the boys. Moran’s prose doesn’t dwell on the injustice, though, so much as celebrate the attempts to circumvent it. It also lavishly celebrates the 90s, revelling in Britpop, grunge, Riot Grrrls and zine culture. For any woman who wants to relive the 90s as a lady rock critic underdog who takes on the boys and wins while having all the fun, your chance has arrived. I suggest you take it.