Book Club: How To Build a Girl

How To Build a Girl Book Review

How To Build a Girl Book Review

After hearing so much about Caitlin Moran, I picked this book up on one of my 3-for-2 Waterstones hauls.  This book boasted rave reviews, with appraisals from many of the top papers.  The story from the blurb held so much promise and I could hardly wait to get stuck in.

This made it tough for me to deal with my disappointment in this book.  I really, really wanted to like it. There were perhaps one or two of the aforementioned “laugh-out-loud” moments, but these were honestly few and far between. I made the effort to get to the end, partly because I don’t like leaving books unfinished, and also partly holding out in case it somehow redeemed itself.  I’m afraid, for me, it didn’t.

While the potential for a great story was there, it failed to deliver.  The writing was of a poor style and sorry standard. I just couldn’t warm to the main character, or her family, and I found myself becoming irritated.  I know books aren’t always true to life, and this is often half the fun, but I found the story and indeed the character so unrealistic, to the point of being ridiculous.  I was looking forward to reminiscing and identifying with a 14 (and 17) year-old girl and the venture through teenage-hood, but I honestly could not identify with her, or anything she felt.

I thought the author was perhaps trying too hard to shock, and in my opinion just came across as desperate.  I’m an adult and have no issue with sexuality being expressed in books, but the style in which Moran chose to convey the protagonist’s experiences were unnecessarily vulgar and in bad taste.   Much of it I imagine was meant to be funny, but it induced more eye-rolling than giggles.

The narrative also felt messy and unstructured.  Much of it is told in the present tense, before randomly moving into a voice of hindsight, then back to the present again.  I found this uninspiring and it was another reason I just couldn’t click with this book.

Have you read How To Build a Girl?  What were your thoughts?


  1. Patricia Fawcett
    August 5, 2016 / 2:57 pm

    Sarah, it’s great to see your blog once more. This is a very exciting time for both you and Jamie, settling in to a new city, a new phase in your life together. I agreed 100% with your review of ‘Brooklyn.’ Your latest review makes me want to download the book just to prove your point. Shock tactics are wearing thin; all boundaries have been crossed. The ‘F’ word was first uttered on air by Kenneth Tynan in 1966; it has long been absorbed into everyday language, soon to be closely followed by another awful word. Words can be spewed on to a page with no regard for grammar or syntax. As you well know, the written word and the spoken word have two different takes on language. Maybe this writer recorded her random thoughts when putting her novel together and went on to transcribe them, without bothering to shape the plot, words, tense and grammar into something cohesive. My friend Ashley recently lent me the late Lynda Bellingham’s autobiography, which she bravely put together towards the end of her battle with cancer. For obvious reasons, Lynda would have been unable to use a keyboard or a pen, so would have had to resort to recording her memoir to be transcribed. Her courage shone through; she never lost her sense of humour. The book sounded as if she was chatting to you but I found the asides distracting. This is just me being a boring old trout but, like all our extended family, I love to read and savour what is going on. It’s difficult when the narrative is ‘jumpy.’ In the midst of demolishing Paperwork Mountain in a very untidy house,I decided to treat myself to checking emails. It was a joy to see your blog! Our best to you both, Pat xoxoxox :)

    • August 9, 2016 / 11:07 am

      Hello Pat! Thank you so very much for reading and writing, and of course your well-wishes! :) I can give you my copy of the book when I’m home although it’s pretty embarrassing! I must check out Lynda Bellingham’s book, it’s very highly regarded. Can you recommend any other books? I had brought a few out here with me, but will be running out soon and would love a recommendation from you. Love Sarah :) xoxoxox

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