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How to Build a Girl: A Novel Audiobook, by Caitlin Moran Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Caitlin Moran Narrator: Louise Brealey Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2014 ISBN: 9780062350817
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What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn't enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës—but without the dying-young bit.

By sixteen, she's smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and working for a music paper. She's writing pornographic letters to rock stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she's built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks enough to build a girl after all?

Imagine The Bell Jar—written by Rizzo from Grease. How to Build a Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Brilliantly observed, thrillingly rude, and laugh-out-loud funny.”

    Helen Fielding, New York Times bestselling author of the Bridget Jones series

  • “Wonderfully wise and flat-out hilarious.”


  • “The earnestness with which Johanna goes about constructing a new persona gives the novel an almost irresistible verve, and the reader continues to root for her even during the most embarrassing episodes.”

    New Yorker

  • “Moran’s spirited coming-of-age tale romps from strength to strength.”

    Times (London)

  • “Rallying cries will always have a place in a yet-unfinished movement like feminism, but sometimes storytelling is more effective. The fictional Johanna Morrigan never drops the F-word, but readers can see she’s asking all the right questions.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A rambunctious, raw-edged, silly-profound, and deeply relatable guide to what your worst mistakes can teach you.”

    Independent (London)

  • “A feminist coming-of-age tale…Johanna is an irrepressible narrator, telling a mostly true and funny tale of survival and success.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Almost every page has something on it that makes you smile, makes you sad, or makes you think—often all three at once in one sentence.”


  • “A smart, splendid, laugh-out-loud-funny novel.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Vivid and full of truths…There’s a point in midlife, when you’re already built, as it were, when the average coming-of-age story starts to feel completely uninteresting. But Moran is so lively, dazzlingly insightful, and fun that How to Build a Girl transcends any age restrictions.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Moran’s book is not a sweet coming-of-age story but an unvarnished, yet funny, picture of a teenager exploring her sexuality and feminine power. While the novel’s language and setting is very British, its teen angst is universal. Moran’s wit and compassion for her characters make this book not only insightful but captivating.”

    RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

  • “Louise Brealey is perfect as the voice of Johanna…Brealey’s accent and light tone fit with Johanna’s exploits and offbeat style.”


  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A People Pick of the Week

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About the Author

Caitlin Moran wrote her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of fifteen. At sixteen she joined the music weekly Melody Maker, and at eighteen hosted the pop show Naked City. Following this, she put in eighteen years as a columnist for the Times as a television critic and the most-read part of the paper—the satirical celebrity column Celebrity Watch. Her work for the Times earned her the British Press Awards’ Columnist of the Year Award and Critic and Interviewer of the Year.

About the Narrator

Louise Brealey, AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator, studied history at Cambridge University before studying acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Manhattan. On television, she appeared in the long-running medical drama Casualty on BBC One in 2002, appearing in ninety-six episodes. Afterwards, she appeared in the BBC serialization of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, as well as Hotel Babylon, Law & Order: UK, Ripper Street, and in all series of Sherlock as Molly Hooper.