Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How to Build a Girl” as Want to Read:
How to Build a Girl
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How to Build a Girl

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  24,979 Ratings  ·  2,905 Reviews
My name’s Johanna Morrigan. I’m fourteen, and I’ve just decided to kill myself.

I don’t really want to die, of course! I just need to kill Johanna, and build a new girl. Dolly Wilde will be everything I want to be, and more! But as with all the best coming-of-age stories, it doesn’t exactly go to plan…

The brilliant Number One bestselling novel from Caitlin Moran, the award-
Paperback, 343 pages
Published April 9th 2015 by Ebury Press (Fiction) (first published September 23rd 2014)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How to Build a Girl, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jess Parsons It's not dissimilar to Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole books which I read when I was about 10. Anything your daughter doesn't understand will go right over…moreIt's not dissimilar to Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole books which I read when I was about 10. Anything your daughter doesn't understand will go right over her head, and anything she does understand will enlighten her. Better her learning about life and female sexuality from a feminist like Caitlin Moran than any influence she'll be exposed to on the playground or in the media.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Amy Laurens
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like to imagine, sometimes, that Caitlin Moran is my friend. We have such fun together in my head! You would love hanging with us. Shopping for orthopaedic boots, listening to shoegaze, and cackling like fishwives. We share stories about our fat, unpopular, wannabe-indie childhoods. We have loads to talk about. I love to hear her anecdotes! My friend Caitlin is proper funny.

We talk a lot--Caitlin is a talker--and after a while I start to notice that I'm hearing a lot of her anecdotes more tha
Bex Dawkins
Oh Caitlin. Caitlin Moran is one of my favourite people. I've met her and she is awesome and so so nice. I adored How to Be a Woman, enjoy her Times articles, titter at her Twitter and was even glued to the pilot of her new tv series Raised by Wolves. I really wanted to love this... But I didn't.

Don't get me wrong- I gave it 3 stars after all- and please do read it. I think Moran was trying so hard to get a million different points across that our heroine gets a little bit lost in it all.

Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2017
In How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran has created one of the funniest, most genuine and vivid characters I've read in a long time. Johanna Morrigan is witty, insecure and delightfully crass. And her story—that of a day-dreaming young girl growing up poor in 1990's Wolverhamption (which I can only assume equates to the British suburbs) who aspires to music journalism fame by reinventing herself as 'Dolly Wilde' after a disaster on live TV—is charming and incredibly relatable. Johanna goes through ...more
Ben Babcock
Second reading: December 15 to 16, 2016

This was the (viewer-selected!) December book for the Banging Book Club. I read this over two years ago (God, where does the time go?) but decided to re-read it. I do not regret this decision. It’s even better than I remember.

I’m actually pretty happy with my review below, and it is long, so I won’t add much. But as much as this book is about sex (hence its pick for the club), it is also about growing up, about being poor, about being a woman, about finding
Jul 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How to Build a Girl is a story of a teenage girl, Johanna Morrigan, who lives with her family in an over crowed home of 7 in a community estate, Wolverhampton England in the 1990’s. Johanna lives on hand-me-downs, she is badly dressed, over weight and tends to talk too much and is not happy how her teenage life is working out. After she humiliated herself on national TV, Johanna decided to re-invent herself to Dolly Wilde; outspoken, free spirited gothic babe and a pop-music review critic to be ...more
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to hug this book and carry it around with me forever like a security blanket.
Aaaa! It's been over a week since I finished this one, and I'm still wavering - three or four stars?

On the one hand, Caitlin Moran is kind of my sister from another mister. How can I even consider giving her anything less than four stars? Well, it's just that this book is pretty much a young adult, fictionalized version of How to Be a Woman. Here we have 14-year-old Johanna Morrigan, growing up with many siblings in a cramped household in a working class neighborhood; a girl who dreams big, gets
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Anyway. Yadda yadda yadda. The bottom line is, I wank a lot thinking about medieval demons.

I have given up trying to understand people who don't like Caitlin Moran as much as I do; now I just put my head on one side and look at them with a little frown, wondering where things went wrong. I picked this one off a friend's bookshelf during a social occasion and started browsing the opening idly, but I was soon laughing so uncontrollably that the whole evening devolved into me just reading bits out
3.5 stars - Spoilers

Entertaining in a vulgar, rude and very British way.

-There was a lot to love in this and a fair amount to dislike too (such as the repetitiveness and at times spineless heroine). For the most part I thoroughly enjoyed Johanna's adventures and musings but on occasion she really frustrated me. She was funny and easy to root for, especially when she was around her family and trying to make it as a music journalist by faking a whole persona. But there was also a number of times
María Ángeles
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sin lugar a dudas, es un libro muy transgresor.
Johana es una adolescente de 14 años que empieza a contarnos su mundo. No tiene pelos en la lengua, y lo cuenta absolutamente todo. Desde las borracheras de su padre, sus problemas existenciales, o cómo se entretiene cada noche con su desodorante.
Hay momentos totalmente magníficos, de arrancarte una carcajada y no parar de reír. De volver a pensarlo y volver a reír... Simplemente, geniales.
Hay otra cosa que me ha encantado, y es cómo Johana cree q
Sarah Churchill
Absolutely adored it. Hilarious and dark, 'shocking' and honest.

Lots of sexual content, strong language and a scene with self harm. So, you know, you've been warned.
♥ Jx PinkLady Reviews ♥
Review later, maybe
Elyse Walters
Oct 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel started out as a 'sauna' read --(a side book). I got hooked -- "How To Build a Girl" became 'THE' book I was reading.

After humiliating herself on local television, 14 year old Johanna transforms herself into Dolly Wilde,
a cooler-than-cool music reviewer who's big into sex, drugs, and rock and roll. All is well until Johanna starts to loose herself in her alter ego, at which point she questions where she ends and Dolly begins.

This is a laugh outloud roller coaster ride through the bes
[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 ch
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book. It was as if Caitlin Moran had read my teenage diary and wrote it all out for me. Her writing perfectly captured that of a teen and managed to transport me back into my 14 year old self, insecure but eager to tackle the world, believing I knew it all when I really knew nothing and reminding me of all the mistakes I made along the road to discovering myself. Reading this was like therapy, realizing all those mistakes in life weren't made for nothing but were essential in me "bu ...more
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The bits about masturbation and sex are funny, and there are some true, helpful, and new insights into what it's like to be a teenage girl, but this book is a complete mess. The narrator's voice shifts all over the place, without warning, and seemingly by accident--sometimes she's a teenager, sometimes she's an adult looking back on her teenage years. We're told that the protagonist is awkward and insecure, but she talks like a witty 40-something writer dashing off one-liners in her office. Ther ...more
This was such a funny and gritty coming-of-age story about a girl who decides to reinvent herself, takes on another persona and starts working at a music magazine when she's just fifteen. I didn't get half of the references to the music scene of 1990s England, but that didn't really bother me and overall I really enjoyed the process of reading this. (Beware though, there's lots and lots of sexual content in this book, so maybe don't pick it up if you're very young or just don't like reading abou ...more
Jonathan Peto
Sep 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
During the first 50 pages or so, I developed buyer's remorse. Not a painful, howl at the moon remorse, but a vibe. The story had its moments, including some excellent observations, an often interesting, amusing, vulnerable fourteen year old narrator who was growing on me, but some of the events, the way it rolled out, had bursts of tedium and I suspected they might grow and get worse. They did, in a way, near the very end, but for me, maybe because I've never read anything else by Caitlin Moran ...more
I feel like the world's biggest asshole sometimes. I so badly want to love everthing that Caitlin Moran does, but her stuff never seems to click with me.

This is a novel that feel very autobiographical, about a fourteen-year-old girl whose family struggles to make ends meet in Wolverhampton, England. Johanna's chubby, awkward, and socially clueless. After embarrassing herself on local television, Johanna decides to re-invent herself. She becomes a music critic for a London magazine under the pse
Julie Ehlers
I acknowledge that this novel is not perfectly written--as other reviewers have noted, the POV switches from teenage Johanna to older Johanna looking back were sometimes jarring. But I don't care. I thought this book was hilarious and so entertaining. It was also great to read about a teenage girl who really didn't have it all together, but was smart and eventually able to succeed on her own terms. This isn't a YA book, but I wish I had had it when I was a kid and was spending my time reading th ...more
Alexandra Al
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prestado
Directo a mi lista de libros favoritos. Johanna/Dolly se va a quedar mucho tiempo conmigo. ¡Y qué maravilla es leer a Caitlin Moran!
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2017
Próbowałam tę książkę kupić chyba ze trzy razy: najpierw, jak wyszła, to chodziłam i się zastanawiałam, ale ostatecznie uznałam, że wolałabym upolować po angielsku, więc dałam sobie spokój. Potem wymyśliłam, że kupię w prezencie i pożyczę od obdarowanej (sprytne!), zamówiłam do księgarni i ktoś kupił przez pomyłkę mój egzemplarz.

Potem nigdzie jej nie widziałam, więc trudno, prezent był inny, a ja cały czas pamiętałam, że chcę tę Moran przeczytać, ale jakoś się z zakupem nie składało. Więc kiedy
A Girl Has No Name
3.5 stars!

All About A Girl by Caitlin Moran came as a really nice surprise. I’m usually not at all into the genre of humorous coming of age stories and after reading the blurb I wasn’t sure if I might like this story or not. Considering the fact that I was at a flea market and that the book was really cheap, I decided to give it a try. And I’m happy that I did, I really enjoyed this one.

Growing up in an area of social housing in Wolverhampton, Johanna Morrigans is an unsecure and awkward teen
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lo empecé con muchas ganas pero me ha decepcionado, básicamente el problema que he tenido es que en ningún momento he llegado a empatizar con la protagonista hasta plantearme abandonarlo pues la verdad me resultaba indiferente lo que le pudiera llegar a pasar o si iba a haber una evolución en el personaje.
May 27, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

I debated whether to give this 3 or 3.5 stars, and finally settled on 3.5 stars because it did make me chuckle throughout. Caitlin Moran has a very specific style of humour which is all her - I think I'd recognise her writing a mile off, even if I hadn't been explicitly told it was her work.

The story follows Johanna Morrigan, who at the start of the story is 14 and desperate to shed her old skin and 'build a new girl' - Dolly Wilde. She sets out to become a music journalist, in order t
Suya Götz
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
As I wirte this review, I feel like cynical Dolly writing hers, only I'm less talented in the art of bashing people (also in writing in general).
I went into this expecting something like How To Be A Woman, a feminist memoir on how to raise your daughter or be a teenager. Yes, it was entirely my fault that I did not look up what this was about, but my expectations ruined the reading experience for me.
How To Build A Girl is, and at the same time isn't, the exact same as Morans other book. While th
Jan 13, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled across this book while trolling my library sites for audio books. It looked good so I put my name down on the request list, I figured it had to be good with 4 people ahead of me.

As the book opened I had my doubts, I'm not a prude by any means, but this teen talking about masturbating in bed while her 6 year old brother was asleep next to her made me do a double take and look at my ipod. My mouth fell open as she talked about how her brother would want her to do this because it would m
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, filthy, effing HILARIOUS, and required reading for aaaaall the ladies, and all the men I'd want to hang out with. (I made my boyfriend read it as soon as I was done, because I'd already read half the thing out loud to him in between uncontrollable bouts of LOL'ing.)

I love Dolly Wilde. I love Caitlin Moran. Read this book if you like laughing, or coming of age stories, or girls, or boys, or sex, or music, or...what else is there? Ice-cream sundaes. Read it.

And try to set aside those id
Alice Lippart
Jun 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Enjoyable and borderline hilarious. Most of the characters were good and the family dynamic fascinating.

My main complaint is that it feels a lot like the main character is actually the author, and it feels like she's writing about herself as a teenager, from an adult point of view and with all the knowledge of after-thought, and to me she felt like a much older character and not an actual teenager. I also feel like our protagonist gets lost in all the things that are happening and we never quit
Hannah Renowden
As a Moran fan I was pretty disappointed with this, and THOSE comments about YA.

Read my full review over at my blog Hannah Reads Stuff
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran 1 11 Sep 10, 2017 06:15PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: #6 How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran 1 1 Mar 27, 2017 04:47PM  
unfinished books 1 17 Jul 15, 2016 08:15AM  
The F-word: October FICTION Selection HOW TO BUILD A GIRL 41 68 Nov 01, 2015 07:32AM  
Tea and Tales wit...: * How to Build a Girl - Discussion 5 35 Aug 02, 2015 05:56AM  
  • Dryland
  • Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music
  • Bitterfittan
  • Sally Heathcote: Suffragette
  • The World is a Wedding (Wilfred Price, #2)
  • Like No Other
  • The Big Lie
  • Women in Clothes
  • A Little F'd Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word
  • A Book for Her
  • Where the Words End and My Body Begins
  • Ugly Girls
  • Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys
  • De Potter's Grand Tour
  • The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media
  • Paper Aeroplanes (Paper Aeroplanes, #1)
  • Terra
  • Rat Girl
Caitlin Moran had literally no friends in 1990, and so had plenty of time to write her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of fifteen. At sixteen she joined music weekly, Melody Maker, and at eighteen briefly presented the pop show 'Naked City' on Channel 4. Following this precocious start she then put in eighteen solid years as a columnist on The Times – both as a TV critic and also ...more
“Because I haven't yet learned the simplest and most important thing of all: the world is difficult, and we are all breakable. So just be kind.” 99 likes
“Self-harm - the world will come at you with knives anyway. You do not need to beat them to it.” 92 likes
More quotes…