Emily is hosting this lovely readalong of How to Build a Girl (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.
“In the long days, the unnerving, violin-like screeching of worry can firmly sat up with the thought, “By nine p.m., I shall be partying.” And besides, I’m drinking for practical reasons. Having spent all my money on my computer, I walk home from gigs, down the A449 to our estate, and the alcohol keeps me warm, and means I do not stint on the top notes when I sing.”
I am CONCERNED for this girl. Johanna’s kind of a hot mess, diving fully into her Dolly Wilde persona – drinking too much, walking home drunk and alone, and finally doing things with the boys. She comes home from a gig in which she adorably thinks “I’m in a kiss!” and has a drunk father to drunk daughter heart-to-heart. AGH. But then we get this:
“Whenever Dadda tells me the stories of what it was like when he was young, I shiver again in relief and glee that I am here, now. I do not think I would have been me at any other time. I would not have been allowed.”
And damn it, Caitlin Moran, crap like this is what totally leads me to love Johanna, even when she kind of makes me want to pull my hair out and yell “NOOOOO, BAD DECISION” at some of the many things she does. Like agreeing to try to get her dad an “in” to a music career. Oy. And not writing reviews about bands she likes (DON’T BE A FAN). A tad over-dramatic there, girlie. You can absolutely write about bands that are good – just don’t write a freaking love letter to them and then have it published.
I love that Krissi loves rap.
Johanna nails how awesome awesome kisses are:
“He’s kissing me in a way that could save the lives of the dying. He has my face in his hands, and there’s a lazy, urgent joy in the way he moves – I’m pretty sure there can’t ever have been any kissing better than this. There can’t ever have been any kissing before. We are inventing it, in these last ten minutes.”
And then she instantly makes me feel completely sorry for her brand new sex life, in which she talks about how great sex is because you get ALL of a person’s attention, which she used to have to pretend to die to get. And then about how her purpose to to make men come. And then how she writes letters to John Kite vividly describing the sex she’s having.
Clearly, Johanna has some self-esteem issues. This is nothing new, it’s kind of a main theme of the book – that she likes herself, but in general, never thought she would get the kind of attention “pretty” girls get. I just wish that her self-esteem issues weren’t leading her towards such a self-destructive path. Which I guess makes this a good book for teen girls who might be going through that? Sure.
On the one hand, I am totally okay with women having casual sex and good for them, if they’re being healthy and smart about it.
On the other hand, it concerns me that Johanna says she wants to be introduced as a “legendary piece of ass”. And that throughout this relatively descriptive section, she hasn’t mentioned condoms once. Please, please let there have been condoms.
And then she says things like “I’m a Lady Sex Adventuress! I’m a Pirate of Privates! I’m a swashfuckler!” and I think that she’s going to be okay. I hope.
Johanna talks a bit about how only the men come in all the porn she’s scene (jesus, I can only imagine the amount of spam I’m attracting by writing this post), and I know Moran’s written about that before so… snore. I don’t care. And it kind of bugs me that Moran’s non-fiction is overlapping so directly with her fiction yet again.
And then this section ends with the chapter about Al, the apparently hugely endowed guy, and… I don’t even know what to say. It was kind of funny. It also made me uncomfortable, because aside from s/he said jokes, I don’t really talk… like this. And because SERIOUSLY Johanna, please tell me there were condoms involved here. I am WORRIED. Johanna only has one more section to really get her shit together and be safe and more herself.
I enjoyed her calling the cat a vagina-ruiner, though. That was amusing.