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review 2016-05-27 14:46
Caitlin Moran - Dziewczyna, którą nigdy nie byłam
Kiedy czytam tekst o czternastolatce, której losy tak idealnie zbiegają się z moimi perypetiami sprzed kilku lat, zastanawiam się, czy jestem tak niedojrzała emocjonalnie, czy po prostu każda kobieta musi zmierzyć się z podobnymi problemami. A ponieważ każda z nas boi się momentami życia, czuje, że większość spraw ją przerasta, ale jednocześnie wciąż pozostaje wojowniczką... Odpowiedź nasuwa się sama. 

 


Johanna pochodzi z wielodzietnej rodziny. Jej ojciec jest rencistą, marzącym o zrobieniu kariery w rockowym bandzie, ale wszelkie jego starania kończą się fiaskiem. Matka zajmuje się praktycznie tylko rodzeniem i wychowywaniem dzieci. Johanna, najstarsza z rodzeństwa, nie licząc nastoletniego, wyalienowanego Krissiego, pomaga w domu, jak tylko może. Niestety, pewnego razu, z powodu swojego długiego języka, naraża rodzinę na kłopoty finansowe. Wówczas postanawia wziąć się w garść i zarobić pieniądze. Nie jest to łatwe zadanie, gdy ma się czternaście lat i nadwagę, ale Johanna nie poddaje się. Robi to, co sprawia jej największą frajdę, czyli pisze i słucha muzyki. Po wielu pracowitych miesiącach odzywa się do niej londyńskie czasopismo muzyczne... Zaczyna się wielka kariera, spotkania ze sławami, a także alkoholem i narkotykami...


Dziewczyna, którą nigdy nie byłam nie jest wybitnym dziełem literackim. Czytelnik nie spotka się z zadziwiającymi konstrukcjami językowymi, które zaspokoją jego wysublimowane gusta. Nie jest to jednak błaha opowiastka, jak choćby Pamiętnik księżniczki. Książeczki Meg Cabot nie mogą konkurować z opowieścią Caitlin Moran. Tworzona przez nią proza ma w sobie mądrość, błyskotliwość, życiowość oraz poczucie humoru. Od lektury nie można się oderwać, a czyta się szybko. Czasem z uśmiechem na ustach, czasem z zatrwożeniem, ale przede wszystkim z wielką empatią, bo przecież Johanna, główna bohaterka, to właśnie w większej lub mniejszej mierze osoba, która trzyma Dziewczynę, którą nigdy nie byłam.

Strach dał mi solidną nauczkę: nigdy więcej nie powiem nikomu, jak mi źle. Nigdy nie przyznam się do słabości. To wcale nie pomaga. To tylko pogarsza sprawę.

Taki cytat pojawia się na samym początku utworu. To przemyślenia Johanny, która zwierzyła się ze swojego cierpienia bliskiej, jak wówczas myślała, osobie. Niestety, wywołało to nieprzewidywane konsekwencje. Może to zabrzmieć jako antyrada. Jednak to cenna wskazówka, ponieważ uczy, że w dzisiejszym świecie faktycznie warto uważać na słowa i analizować swoje odczucia. Ale to tylko jedna z lekcji, jakich udziela Caitlin Moran.

 

Autorka przedstawia w fabularnej osnowie swoje własne doświadczenia. Tak jak Johanna, nie skończyła szkoły, a stała się światłą osobą dzięki wielogodzinnym pobytom w bibliotece niemal każdego dnia. W bardzo młodym wieku wygrała konkurs literacki, a później rozpoczęła pracę w popularnym magazynie. Zarówno pisarka, jak i jej bohaterka, pokazują, że warto żyć na swój sposób i tak naprawdę niewiele potrzeba nam do szczęścia. Wystarczy konsekwentnie podążać drogą ku spełnieniu własnych marzeń, robić to, co się lubi oraz pamiętać o byciu dobrym człowiekiem. Recepta prosta i może dla większości banalna, ale warto, naprawdę warto czytać takie książki, by przypominać sobie o tym każdego dnia na nowo. Czasem, jak w przypadku Johanny, bardzo łatwo się zapomnieć.

Nigdy więcej nie pozwól, byś czuła się tak źle. Nigdy nie wracaj do tego miejsca, gdzie pomóc może już tylko nóż. Żyj łagodnie i bądź miła. Nie rób rzeczy, po których chcesz wyrządzić sobie krzywdę. Cokolwiek robisz, każdego dnia, pamiętaj o tym - a potem trzymaj się od tego z daleka.

Oprócz przezabawnych wpadek Johanny, jej usilnych starań polegających na zarabianiu pieniędzy, by wspomóc rodzinę a także pogoni za marzeniami, jesteśmy świadkami fascynującej historii miłosnej dwojga młodych ludzi. W Dziewczynie, którą nigdy nie byłam dotkniemy także samotności, bólu istnienia oraz niedopasowania. A także poczujemy się jak pisarze. Bo dla mnie książka to istny creme de la creme, gdy traktuje o pisaniu. Na koniec jeden z przemiłych cytatów, dotyczących tego fachu.

Pisanie książki jest gorsze niż poród - poród w piekle - po którym się umiera, a potem zostaje przywróconym do życia tylko po to, by urodzić jeszcze jedno dziecko, które tym razem wychodzi oczami - chociaż w oczach nie ma dziur i dziecko nie ma jak stamtąd się wydostać. A może jeszcze gorsze.

Tym przemiłym akcentem chcę polecić Wam rewelacyjną Dziewczynę, którą nigdy nie byłam. Mam nadzieję, że pochłoniecie lekturę tak szybko, jak ja i losy Johanny zostaną w Waszych głowach na długo.

8/10
Source: fabryka-dygresji.blogspot.com/2016/05/caitlin-moran-dziewczyna-ktora-nigdy.html
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review 2015-05-19 00:46
How to Build a Girl - Caitlin Moran

I can't decide between 3 stars or 4. So we'll say 3.5. I am unfamiliar with Caitlin Moran, I know the she wrote the book How to be a Woman and is somewhat a feminist activist. I wasn’t sure what to expect from How to Build a Girl, I thought it was biography/social science and it took me by surprise to actually be fiction. Johanna is from a poor family and trying to find herself, she also wants to get laid. She decides to try out a persona she calls Dolly Wilde, who is a cynic music critic and has outrageous conversations about sex.

I liked a lot about the book, the music mentioned, the attitude towards sex, and the overall coming of age story, but it felt unrealistic coming from a teenager perspective and that is because it isn’t. There are times in the story where Dolly/Johanna explain something and then mention how she sees it in hindsight, yet that isn’t part of the story. We are led to believe the perspective is being told by Johanna at the time it happens. So this just irritated me a bit. My second issue the absurd ideas Johanna has about her self and her role in sex. I get it can take people awhile to figure this out, but Caitlin went to the extreme. Everything else I loved, I laughed out loud at many parts. The plot has a good flow to it and it;s even though this is an extreme version of finding yourself it is relatable.

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review 2014-09-28 00:00
How to Build a Girl
How to Build a Girl - Caitlin Moran The introduction tried to make it obvious that the main character, Johanna, is not the author (Caitlin Moran), but frankly, it's just the same difference between Nancy Mitford's novels and her own family's biography. There are parts so heavily lifted from Moran's young life (growing up poor on a council estate and a juvenile love of "self abuse") previously discussed in her other books, [b:How to Be a Woman|10600242|How to Be a Woman|Caitlin Moran|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405909800s/10600242.jpg|15507935] and [b:Moranthology|15726395|Moranthology|Caitlin Moran|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1340899303s/15726395.jpg|21403525], that it's obvious where a lot of the inspiration comes from. The Johanna's voice is even startlingly similar to Moran's tone in her columns.

That being said, where art fails to imitative life might be some of the more interesting parts. Really, this novel boils down to the expression of a fantasy that every young, awkward, plump, nerdy girl has: finding your niche and also trying on being someone else for a while. It's interesting in that regard, but, as with Nancy Mitford, I prefer the non-fiction to the fiction (even if that line is throughly blurred).
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text 2014-08-09 15:21
#BookadayUK - Most Powerful Storytelling
How to Build a Girl - Caitlin Moran

For today's choice, I was very tempted to go with Amazon's fabulously passive-aggressive email telling us to email Hachette's CEO. It's the best work of fiction I've read all day. Unfortunately, it's not a book, so I'll have to go with something else, which means I've got to work out what "powerful" is. 

 

To me, a powerful story is one which immerses me in the world of the protagonist, which engages me whatever they're going through and which leaves me feeling differently about things. I have two books in mind. The first is Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry because it's done so perfectly.

 

But my pick - despite my wanting to try and steer away from books which are already popular - is Caitlin Moran's How To Build A Girl.

 

There is a section near the end of the book in which she talks about cynicism and what it does to you, and it not only made me weep hot buckets of salty tears all over my keyboard - and is making me well-up now, dammit - but which made me consciously go out and change something. Off the back of those pages I realised some things about myself and I made the active decision to be different.

 

And now I feel powerful. And I have a dress covered in Unicorns. 

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review 2014-07-02 15:00
I'm pretty sure "Lady Sex Adventurer" wasn't an option on my careers advice form - How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
How To Build A Girl - Caitlin Moran

[My copy of this book was an uncorrected proof, provided to me gratis by the publisher, HarperColins, facilitated in this act of goodness by Edelweiss. I think this makes me a pawn of Murdoch now.]

 

From the outside, Caitlin Moran can look a bit like a one-trick pony. Although she's been a journalist and Times columnist for many years, she had massive success a couple of years ago with her memoir/feminist treatise How To Be A Woman which contained many amusing tales about her poor Wolverhampton childhood. She, with her sister, has written a sitcom, Raised By Wolves, about a teenager growing up in poor Wolverhampton. Now there's this.

 

Despite the authorial introduction in which we are assured How To Build A Girl is not based on truth, one could be forgiven for fearing, as I did, a thinly fictionalised re-tread of the stuff which made Moran a household name. It isn't. Far from it. Although there are clear parallels - and some commercially cynical titling and structure going on - it all read new to me.

 

Opening in 1990, 14-year-old Johanna Morrigan lives in Wolverhampton. She wonders when she's going to get to finally have sex. She spends much time wanking. The book is hilariously instructional on this point if initially a little ... uncomfortable. The opening scene is of Johanna doing what she enjoys while her 6-year-old brother is asleep next to her. That it manages to get away with this is entirely due to Moran's cheerfully honest narrator, and later, to the other characters.

 

The book follows Johanna from awkward 14-year-old to 16-year-old music reviewer "Dolly Wilde" to vaguely "built" girl of 18. It is that rare thing, a female narrative untempered by usual sub-plots which so often tacitly reinforce the idea that to be female is not enough on its own. The prose even points it out: there is very little female narrative of what it's like to fuck and be fucked. This is a coming-of-age story. It is about Johanna figuring out who she is. It's not about the mistakes she makes while she does it, and it's not about them *being* mistakes, and it doesn't shame her for anything she does. It just ... is.

 

Johanna is going to make or break this novel for the reader: she's frank and honest, she doesn't know what she's doing and she's not what she wants to be but she's going to try. She is all feigned confidence and internal doubt, but ultimately just a person who is doing what people do, in a top hat. I loved her utterly and not just for the word "swashfuckler".

 

There is a section near the end about cynicism, about what it does, and it brought me to tears (and I am not generally a weeper) because it's so utterly true and it made me swear to be a better person for the rest of my days. In an earlier draft of this review, I went on to say the feeling wore off after an hour or two, thank god, but I've read the bit I'm talking about several times and it made me weep again. I'm weeping now. I went away, ate muesli, came back and started up again within seconds.

 

[...] it is a million times easier to be cynical and wield a sword, than it is to be open-hearted and stand there, holding a balloon and a birthday cake, with the infinite potential to look foolish.

 

I don't have it in me to stand with balloons. Sometimes I try; invariably nothing happens but it's that nothing which destroys me. I once killed every conversation on a table of 12 people by being enthusiastic about Marina Lewycka's A Short History Of Tractors In The Ukraine, so I went back to what I learned to do at school: not show enthusiasm about things. I play down my love of everything, or I turn it into joke: the crazy cat lady, the foreigner, the girl who waits for somebody else to do maths. I play down the things I am good at because it's easy to deal with that nothing if nothing is what I've given. But I want balloons. I want to have balloons and be proud of them and when that nothing happens, I want it to not matter because balloons.

 

And this is why I love this book and why you need to read it. Moran's finger is so on the money in so many respects. I don't think there's a person alive who doesn't feel like a fraud at some point, and How To Build A Girl is about a character who is pushing against that as she tries to ... build who she is. Good books are about tension and this one considers the place where enthusiasm and ego meet. It is brilliant, and hilarious, and at times like reading something you knew but have forgotten; we've all been there. 

 

It misses out on 5 stars very narrowly - it lacks an overall cohesion. With something like Catcher In The Rye, there is a reason for the particular section of story we are told - HTBAG, while thoroughly entertaining lacks that and, as a consequence, sputters to an ending rather than giving that satisfying over-ness. There are some other minor nitpicks, a couple of things which - again - lack that wholeness and which dangle annoyingly. My uncorrected proof had some modern slang terms in it which I hope were removed.

 

It's also worth briefly touching upon the Twitterstorm of #CaitlinMoranShouldRead. That was a nonsense; this is not YA. This is coming-of-age. It's looking back from the vantage point of adulthood. It has far more in common with Moran's invoked Jilly Cooper than any YA I've ever read (but I'm not a big YA reader). By all means give it to your 14-year-old, but the prime audience are more likely to be me: 30-somethings who know who The Smashing Pumpkins are.

 

How To Build a Girl is a first-rate read which I thoroughly recommend - it's sweary and graphic and surprisingly educational. Even before the bits which had me weeping over my Kindle it was pretty fabulous, and those bits by no means made the book for me. If we're going to complain about Moran's equine fidelity, we can make sure to note she perfecting it with every offering: 4.5 stars. 

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