HOW TO BUILD A GIRL READALONG: THE FIRST PART

Howdy there ladies.

how to build a girl

 

It’s Mondaaaayyyy, which means we have finally read some of How to Build a Girl and get to talk about it! Emily is hosting this lovely readalong (THANKS EMILY!), and if you’d like to pre-order a copy of this you should head on over to Odyssey Bookshop to do that. And if you’re not readalong-ing with us, be aware – THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

 

So we have met our intrepid heroine, Johanna. And what is she doing when we first meet her? Masturbating. Next to her brother.

what are you doing

do you not

 

So, go Johanna for masturbating, I guess? I mean, “If I can’t go on a date with a boy…. then at least I can go on a date with me. A bed-date, i.e., a wank.” is a sentiment I can totally get behind. But dude…. not next to your little brother.

I instantly feel for Johanna, because her dad is a pathetic ass, but she loves him. I get this. I kind of hate her dad, but that makes me sympathize with her. I hope she learns to stand up to him as the book goes on.

Joanna starts peeling potatoes because she’s acting-parent of this household, and this little gem gets dropped on me:

“I carried on peeling potatoes. I love this peeling knife. It fits so snugly in my hand. Together, we must have peeled tons of potatoes. We are a good team. It is my Excalibur.”

And that just might be my favorite passage so far. It’s hard to compete with my love of potatoes.

Her poor mother… I feel super badΒ for her. I feel like I shouldn’t. She’s married and choosing to stay with a man who has never grown up and learned to take care of his family, and she is absolutely miserable because she has twin infants now and that just sucks. And seriously people, BIRTH CONTROL. And yet, I still feel bad for her. Maybe I’m just feeling particularly nice, because normally this shit would infuriate me. Especially with Johanna being all

“Currently we don’t have a mother. Just a space where one was.”

sad baby

 

I hope that her mom gets her shit together and kicks their good-for-nothing father out of the house.

So ANYWAYS, Johanna accidentally lets the cat out of the bag, in that she expresses to a neighbor that her crappy father is cheating the system and getting assistance, and she’s terrified that she has just caused the downfall of her entire family. This poor girl. Losing their assistance might have been the best thing to ever happen to her family, because her parents would have been forced to try to find jobs, but still. She’s freaked, and starts very nobly trying to make some dough. Which leads to that hilarious but also heartbreaking appearance of her on TV. So first, she comes to the realization that she is not a pretty girl. That in of itself was just sad. This bright, hilarious, brazen girl sees herself in a monitor and sees herself as ugly and fat. And that was just heartbreaking.

crushing my heart

And then she does a Scooby Doo impression on television, which was just hysterical and also a little like watching a train derail. Sadly, it’s her father who has the best response (basically, don’t be a prat), and while I hate to admit that man can say anything of which I approve – I do. It was really the only thing to say.

So all in all, I’m actually really enjoying this and I’m glad because I wasn’t sure I would. This is easily the most I’ve highlighted quotes & made notes on my Kindle. But it’s hard not to like Johanna. She’s weird and funny and passionate, even when she’s not sure what she should be passionate about. She thinks her kisses are going to change the world, and well, this

“I don’t want to die for something. I don’t even want to walk in the rain up a hill in a skirt that’s sticking to my thighs for something. I want to live for something, instead – as men do. I want to have fun.”

 

FABULOUS

 

I’m really glad I get to start the next section now. FINALLY. It’s hard waiting a whole week.

 

~Sarah

 

 

 

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16 comments

  1. That bit about living for something, not dying for something, was one of my definite YESSSS moments (of which there have already been many). But the family losing their benefits at this point would definitely not be a good thing. A father with no idea of how the real world works, a depressed mother, a household already teetering on the poverty line, and five kids to feed? That would not go well. On to section 2! I really want to see who Johanna chooses to help her build herself. I want to compare idols and make music playlists and get all inspired. COME ON CAITLIN MORAN, DON’T LET ME DOWN! πŸ™‚

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    1. Your GIFs are great this week. I forgot how great that line about peeling potatoes and Excalibur is. I feel like Johanna has so many great throw-away lines that are worth highlighting and examining.

      Glad you’re liking it better than you expected–I’m looking forward to part 2, too.

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      1. Why thank ya πŸ™‚

        I loved her potato peeling bits. I guess she was referring to potatoes a lot as a that was all they can afford thing, but maaaaaan. I love potatoes.

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    2. I feel like her father being forced to grow up and get a job would be a good thing. Their situation sucks right now because he’s been scamming the system for so long… I don’t think the authorities being alerted would be the worst thing. Her parents would be forced to actually act like parents. (I might feel this way because when I was little my parents (well, mostly my dad) were also crappy and on assistance when they really didn’t need to be, and my father is almost 60 and STILL not a grown-up, and it just makes me mad. Don’t have kids if you’re not prepared to step it up and take care of them!)

      I don’t think Moran’s going to let us down. I think this is going to continue to be awesome πŸ™‚

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  2. REGINA GIF GETS +5 POINTS

    I should totally be reading this on my Kindle app so I can highlight everything. Instead I’m just feveredly writing down page numbers.

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  3. I think shit will get REAL if they lose benefits – maybe in a bad way? Also. Yes and yes and yes to the Excalibur potato knife. I wanted to add that too – but my post already went on waaaaay too long. πŸ™‚

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    1. I don’t think things would get THAT bad. They’d be worse off initially, but it would spur someone into action and maybe they would get to the point where they didn’t need them anymore. I don’t have a lot of pity for someone scamming the system like that – her father needs a job, and everyone would be better off in the long run.

      The Excalibur potato knife makes me want my own special potato knife. Except I rarely peel potatoes, because I like the skins (even in mashed potatoes), but maybe a special potato-cutting knife?

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  4. That cat gif is fabulous. FABULOUS.

    I think you should definitely feel sorry for her mother, because even if she should have divorced the father previously (I think this is debatable) she’s clearly suffering from post-natal depression and that’s hard on anyone. She’s not exactly in a position to just get her shit together and be a good mum or get a job with the flick of a switch.

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    1. I do feel bad for her mom, especially because of the post-partum. And well, I’d be incredibly depressed having two more kids that I didn’t want either. I hope that she starts to come out of it soon though, poor lady.

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  5. I agree with Kayleigh — I think we’re definitely supposed to feel bad for Johanna’s mother, even if she’s maybe not being the best mother. I wonder if her mother worked before having the unexpected twins? All Moran mentions is that she was a big runner beforehand. Leaving her husband at this point would just make things worse for the kids, I think, because she probably couldn’t afford childcare or even hold down a job while so depressed.

    This book is so depressing on one level, yet so hilarious on another. It’s maddening.

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  6. Ahahaha, that Archer gif. And that cat gif. Well done all around.

    I think things are going to get real bad for the family if Violet does tell…whoever it is you tell in this situation…and the family gets their benefits taken away.

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    1. It’ll be bad at first, but you know… things usually get worse before they get better. But they DO get better.

      You have no idea how many Archer GIFs I have and never really have an excuse to use. I get super excited when I can make one work πŸ™‚

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  7. The moment she saw herself on the monitors…oh, Johanna. If only someone had told you that NO one looks their best on a TV monitor. I’m intrigued by the fact that they have no mirrors in their house. I could get behind that concept, I think.

    We always end up disagreeing on something, and this time that something is Johanna’s dad. I DO NOT THINK HE’S THAT BAD. I kind of like him. And so does Johanna. So there. ; )

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    1. I am always the odd one out of stuff, I’m used to it. I see how the quirkyness of her dad could make him likable… but I think it’s just one of those things (deadbeat dads who scam the system instead of being responsible) that hits too close to home for me.

      Also, the honeyman would LOVE it if we had no mirrors in our place. Little does he know that the second we buy a house I’m getting one of those fancy full-length mirrors that open up to hold jewelry inside. Poor guy.

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