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How to Build a Girl, Part the Second: "Without explaining why, I break into a very impassioned impression of Scooby-Doo."

The How to Build a Girl readalong is hosted by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) and you can pre-order the book at this place right here.

Okay, so I was unsure how this novel was going to go, and I just want to say


I started it Thursday while sitting in my friend Katie-Anne's cubicle, and the fifth time I laughed out loud she wheeled around and said "You are being SUPER-IRRITATING." But there was no stopping, because "When I start kissing, the world is going to know about it. My kissing is going to change everything. I'm going to be the Beatles of kissing."

Spending time with Johanna is completely delightful, mostly because she's so unabashed when talking about her life.

This feels like a Johanna sentiment

So our 14-year-old heroine comes from a large poor family that she's trying to help, lives in the north of England, writes, and masturbates a LOT. This last subject is very important to me and this is going to be a time of sharing sorry Mom and Dad.

Without getting into a big unwanted-by-all-but-the-pervier-of-you history lesson, lemme just tell you that masturbation was something I started doing early. And then at 13 I became a perhaps (definitely) overly zealous Christian and it was NOT OKAY TO DO THAT AT ALL ANYMORE, but I still did it. And then felt awful, terrible, guilt-wracked self-loathing. It was the worst. That and worrying about being gay were my teenage hell, because I didn't feel like I could talk about either to anyone. Getting to a "whatever" point with both of them was such a huge thing for my mental health, I cannot even tell you.

reflection of my inner self now

So to have Caitlin Moran making her character discuss this — from a GIRL'S perspective, which you so rarely get, as opposed to the ubiquitous Portnoy's Complaint situation — is makes me very happy that she's making it Not a Big Deal.

Johanna's so weird and alone and it's so wonderful. I used to do things when I was sixteen years old like have Charlotte Brontë as an imaginary friend (I was pretty sure I had a special kinship with CB that other 16-year-old girls lacked) and having a novel where maybe that wouldn't seem so odd makes it more okay for girls to be weird and alone and maybe show a dead Victorian author around their family's bathroom and ask about their sex life.

I'm so glad this book is going to be published and available to current teens. Let's all get rid of our hangups about things that aren't actually bad, yes? Especially about masturbation. Not a big deal, world. Let's stop making kids cry about it. I'm pretty sure Caitlin Moran would say that is bullshit.

Her or Adele.


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