How to Build a Girl: Part 4


Trust and believe I shared last week’s post for the How to Build a Girl readalong and immediately read the next section. And then I just finished the whole book. But don’t worry, my darlings, I won’t spoil anything past this week’s part. I am, however, going to have to make this fairly quick since my family is in from out of town and I’d like to devote all my lovin’ to them. I’m going to skip over a quick summary this time around and just bullet a few of my  thoughts.

  • I’m pretty sure I’ve had the pop star poo conversation at least once, but it didn’t fail to make me laugh hysterically.
  • I keep wishing Krissi would come out to Johanna, because it just makes me sad to think of him not being able to talk to anyone, but at the same time it does seem like they have kind of an unspoken agreement about it.
  • Johanna’s mindset about sex and aiming to please the guys she’s with, regardless of her own personal satisfaction, just feels so sadly common for that age (or any female age, really).
  • I hadn’t really noticed it before, but I paid close attention to the POV this time around (since several of you mentioned it) and the switching really bothered me.

“Because I am still learning to walk and talk, and 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. Because I still don’t know what I think or feel, and I’m throwing up grenades and filling the air with smoke while I desperately, desperately try to get off the ground: to get elevation. 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.”

  • Even though this could apply to almost any situation, particularly life as a teenager, it made me think a bit of the book blogging world. Thankfully we don’t see much of it, but I always get a little uncomfortable when I see a blog that specifically aims to be mean in their reviews and I think this is why.
  • amycrea

    Johanna trying to please guys through sex (and cleaning) is worrisome, at the least. It’s kind of the opposite of sexually free.

  • Yes – I think that the discussion on cynicism is such an important life lesson at any age. I can think of a certain guest poster of mine who might do well to take the advice… even though she’s incredibly kind outside of her reviews. :) And in her defense her reviews are incredibly funny.

    • I think it’s being done in jest in appropriate doses in your guest’s case…in the case of blogs that base their “thing” around being mean, meh not so much.

      They’re keeping me busy ;)

  • Jennifer Smeth

    Agree about being mean — it makes me uncomfortable :)

  • Alley

    I really want Krissi to come out to Johanna cos I sort of feel like she doesn’t know? At least I assume she wouldn’t be making some of the comments she did (how a gay person would be shot in Wolverhampton, for example) if she knew. But I want them to bond over this.

    • That’s a good point. I wonder if she would have said that as like, “JUST SAY SOMETHING ALREADY!” or because she honestly doesn’t know. They’re vibe is difficult sometimes because they’re so close.

  • kayleigh M

    I loved the talk on cynicism and bad reviews. I hate when I read a review that’s just mean and not in anyway constructive, it’s so lazy and off putting. And I’m glad Johanna realised it was wrong for her, at least now she has a clear idea of what is right and wrong (don’t be a fan, don’t be a dick)

    • That’s a great point about reviews that aren’t constructive. I think reviews that are negative should at least be able to point out how they think something could have been improved.

      • Tikabelle

        Usually it’s with a fair amount of editing and attention to punctuation. Sometimes by having a person nearby to say, “What? No. Do not put Sherlock Holmes into your mystery novel about a murder in San Francisco. What are you thinking?!?” Ahem.

  • Sarah Says Read

    I thought the cynicism post was interesting… on the one hand, I’m kind of a mean person. I’m okay with it. But I also really believe in fangirling about things that are awesome and wonderful, because… how could you not? But her writing only mean reviews annoyed me as much as the bloggers who only write nice, positive reviews – either way, you’re kind of censoring yourself. Just say what ya feel.

    Johanna’s views on sex are definitely concerning. Especially since this is a girl who seems to have been growing up pretty comfortably with her own sexuality – you’d think she’d be a bit more in touch with herself and see the situations with guys for what they are.

    • It’s definitely strange, but I think it’s possible to be comfortable with personal sexuality and not understand the dynamic in an actual partnership, especially without a positive female.

  • Emily@AstheCroweFlies

    That bit about the cynicism really hit home for me. And if she really learns that at the age of 18 (is that how old she is now? Maybe it’s 16), then she’s many steps ahead of most folks.

    • I think she’s 17? It’s difficult with the shifting point of views and the book has been a little vague about how much time has passed so far.

  • Tikabelle

    I have to admit that I am a huge fan of a clever take-down. I don’t read things expecting them to be bad, and when things are truly awful I will put them down. But there’s a reason one of my favorite GIFs is the Captain Picards “WTF is this shit?” Then again, I’ve never claimed to be a nice person. Kind and loyal, yes. Nice? No. Absurd writing and bad storytelling deserve to be pointed out. /shrug

    I don’t think Johanna knows Krissi is gay. I think she won’t be entirely surprised – especially after she goes back over the specific questions he asks about… Dana and Venkmann… having sex – but she would never have said something about any gay person in Wolverhampton being killed if she cognitively knew about Krissi, y’know? She loves him too much to hurt him like that on purpose.

    • I don’t need or want blogs full of glowing, positive reviews and totally agree that absurd writing and bad storytelling should be pointed out, but I think that’s possible to do more than one way. Clever take-downs are fine, but blogs that center on them don’t really appeal to me.

      When Alley mentioned the murder in her comment I started to think she probably doesn’t know about Krissi, but agree that she won’t be too surprised to find out. I think if she wasn’t so absorbed by everything going on in her own life she would have figured it out pretty quickly.

      • Tikabelle

        “I think if she wasn’t so absorbed by everything going on in her own life she would have figured it out pretty quickly.”

        Agreed. And I am fairly certain that sums up being a teenaged girl pretty succinctly.

  • I think (hope) that the switching verb tense is a copyediting issue that wasn’t ironed out before the ARCs were printed. Because there are quite a lot of typos, really. I’m gonna buy a proper copy of the book when it comes out and reread it, and I’m optimistic that it will all be a little smoother. Fingers crossed.

    I just finished the book this morning, and since you’ve also finished it…didn’t you think it seemed like Johanna was clueless about Krissi’s being gay right up until the end there? I mean, she thinks he’s interested in London gay bars because he wants to help her find a gay best friend. Really, Johanna.

    • After thinking about it more, I think maybe I really just WANTED Johanna to know about Krissi at that point, mostly because I just love him and didn’t want him to be alone.

  • This is the first section were the point of view thing bothered me, but I thought it felt really out of place. I’m excited to see how Krissy and Johanna’s relationship develops. I think they’re great siblings :)

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