Monday, 14 July 2014

How to Build a Girl, Part 1: Humour, Wanking, and Truth Bombs

It's Monday, which means we've got the How to Build a Girl readalong to distract us from the bummer that is, y'know, Monday. Thanks ever so to Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) for devising such a scheme. Another thanks to HarperCollins for giving us a sneak peak of this book because, shock me shock me shock me, it's awesome. This week we read Part 1, so it's possible you'll see spoilers pop up, especially in the comments, but I'll mark them if they're to appear in the actual post. Really, you should just go ahead and pre-order it (Emily's got your back there, too).

Disclaimer: This post will not be comprehensive, on account of I moved houses this week and, therefore, sucked on the notes-taking front. I did not suck, however, on the not-breaking-plates front. You pick your battles.

First, the most important thing: Johanna's got a younger brother named Lupin. Did I not tell you Harry Potter would come into this? I totally told you Harry Potter would come into this.


Don't act like you're not impressed, Snape.

This book keeps lulling me into a humour stupor, so I'm kind of blind sided each time I read a profoundly relatable line, even though they keep happening. Our hero, Johanna, is 14 and one of five kids in a poor family. Poor economically, mind you. Rich in love and embarrassment and Annie-devotion. Even if you can't relate to her exact situation, she goes and says things like, "When I get to London, that is when I will start being me" (p 31). Damn if that's not a nearly inescapable sentiment. It'll be different when I'm done high school, finished university, working a real job. I've had many a conversation with my Mom about avoiding this kind of feeling, not waiting until some indefinable point in the future to start living life or obtain certain qualities. (My success in this varies. Now that I'm living in my first house, for instance, I will surely exercise regularly and stop getting take-out and grow my own vegetables and keep the place immaculately clean. 

It just follows.)

Another relatable quote, still not spoilery and more on the heartbreaking side: "Because my biggest secret of all -- the one I wouldn't even put in my diary -- is that I really, truly, in my heart, want to be beautiful. I want to be beautiful so much -- because it will keep me safe, and keep me lucky, and it's too exhausting not to be" (bold is mine) (p 53). I mean, I JUST.

Johanna is me. Johanna is all of us. Because Moran spends the first 50 pages of the book establishing this kinship between the reader and Johanna, that moment of embarrassment -- that catastrophic nightmare of an experience -- is all the more painful. Thanks for that, Caitlin. I was planning of bursting into flames that Saturday afternoon, anyway. Well, we needed a jumping off point, and the rest of the book is a reaction to that experience, as I understand it.

Also it's super funny and I'm happy to see such an unembarrassed account of a girl wanking and it is SO HOT HERE and I can't write anymore. (I thought we lived in the North. What is this 30+ degree nonsense.) Next week will surely be better. (When I have more time, that is when I'll write thought-provoking posts. [Ah, balls, did it again.]) 

16 comments:

  1. I love Lupin. BOTH Lupins. Remus Lupin is basically wonderful and I would totally have married him, and Little Lupin is just awesome. A small child with tiger ears stalking pigeons? YES.

    That London statement was I THINK the first thing I underlined in the book. Dammit, I'm 27 and only last year I was thinking that. Literally. "I'll go to London and when I get there I'll magically come to life and be a proper person, even if I have to live in a shitty studio and eat nothing but spaghetti." It is frightening how often I still think like a 14 year-old. *hugs teddy possessively* *eats sweets*

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    1. *I* eat nothing but spaghetti! Living the dream.

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    2. Pros and cons to being eternally 14, right? At least they're pretty optimistic about the future, 14-year-olds.

      *makes spaghetti in solidarity*

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  2. Hahaha! That was the first Lupin I thought of too. :)

    But YES. Moran does an amazing job establishing that kinship between Reader and Johanna. I'm SO INVESTED.

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    1. Lupin is forever Remus.

      I KNOW IT'S THE WORST AND ALSO GOOD JOB, MORAN.

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  3. ooh, Lupin!

    This has been so fun already, and we're only just beginning. i can't wait to see which paths Johanna will be taking as she builds herself and I can only hope that we'll have equally parts outrageous humor and introspective thoughtfulness/honesty along the way.

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    1. Seems like your hopes will definitely be met -- great tone so far!

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  4. I think making promises you absolutely can't keep is the moment you truly become an adult. Because everyone is definitely guilty of it, though possibly to different levels.

    Every post I read reminds me of something I forgot, like their adoration of Annie and their attempts to join the cast. The professional at being amateurs line (I am too lazy too look it up, no hate) was brilliant. I would have cast them on the spot.

    P.S Movie sucks, but whooooo first house! How exciting!

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    1. That's such a sad indicator of adulthood! True, but so sad.

      Yessss, lots of experience being amateurs, or something. So many lines that make me say "Nice, nice" aloud.

      P.S. Yaaay, new house! I read last week's section on my deck! IT WAS THE BEST.

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  5. Hahaha 30 degrees that is below freezing.

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    1. You crazy fahrenheiters and your measurements that make no sense.

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  6. HP makes it's way into EVERYTHING.

    The quote about wanting to beautiful and ugh. It makes me want to cry every time and it's so true and all kinds of not fair and ugh.

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    1. Uuuugh is right, though. And how it's a secret she'd never tell, because you're not supposed to want something so shallow and meaningless, but *cries* society and *weeps* media and *dissolves into incoherant feelings*

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  7. Johanna really IS all of us. I feel like no other author has ever written a teenager we can all apparently relate to so damn well. This is clearly because Caitlin is the most amazing human ever *bows down*

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  8. Damn, Snape is really doing the fake clap well there.

    eel like with that beauty quote Moran sat down and was like, "I will lure them in with hilarity and wanking and then suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, drop a massive atomic truthbomb so heartbreakingly honest that my reader will sit and sob and think FINALLY SOMEONE ELSE GETS IT."

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  9. "Not waiting until some indefinable point in the future to start living life or obtain certain qualities." UGH...why do we do this? It's some next-level procrastination shit, is why. I don't even know where to begin changing that mind-set, so if you figure something out, DO let me know.

    I hope you're enjoying getting settled in the new house! I'm pretty excited for you. Second-hand excited.

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