How to Build a Girl: Part 2

We’re moving on to Part 2 in the How to Build a Girl readalong! Now that we’re getting to the halfway point of the book: those of you trying to avoid plot points before reading might want to bookmark this for after the book is out (it can be pre-ordered through The Odyssey Bookshop). You can still watch The Pixies in their terrible music video to stay entertained while you wait, though. If you’re cool with minor spoilers, come on in!


I wish I could convey how obsessed I was with this song (and pretty much every band Johanna mentions in this section) as a freshman in college in 2002. No big deal, just a decade behind.

So, after Johanna’s stinging embarrassment on television, she decides it best to completely revamp herself: new look, new name, new life. She calls herself Dolly Wilde, after Oscar Wilde’s niece, dies her hair black and goes into a record shop for the first time. After a mishap with her younger brother, she ends up with a copy of a free music magazine, Disc & Music Echo, and grows determined to become a music journalist. Following a crash course in the music she’s missed, Johanna begins sending D&ME countless articles until they call her in to offer a writing gig with the magazine.

A few specific thoughts:

  • I thought this section was a fantastic balance to the first part of the book. While it still had the same humor and wit, it was a little more subdued, which I think was needed after such a punchy start.
  • Based on her wall, I’m thinking Johanna would be awesome at Tumblr. Also, she needs a community like My Daguerreotype Boyfriend (YUM).
  • I was basically freaking out over the music in this section. Repeatedly. It was wonderful.
  • I really, really hope Johanna’s dad isn’t going to screw things up by trying to use her as his next path to the future…but you know, it’s pretty much bound to happen.

And then there was Johanna’s first gig.

This tweet totally threw me back. The summer before I went to college and learned enough to listen to The Pixies, I was riding the emo wave hard and went to see Brand New open up for Taking Back Sunday. It wasn’t my first gig, but up until that point it had been mostly Dashboard Confessional and Ben Kweller and, let me tell you, Chris Carrabba doesn’t end up with butt sweat like this.


The Shelter (yes, from 8 Mile) is like the size of my living room. And it was August. And I’m pretty sure the place was at twice capacity, so it was absofuckinglutely disgusting. I completely understand Johanna’s experience. But, hey, I did meet my husband that night, sweat and all.