I dived straight into Caitlin Moran’s How to Be Famous without knowing that it was a sequel to her previous novel How to Build A Girl, and that didn’t stop me from loving it as much as I did. In fact, I need to get my hands on her first novel ASAP. As soon as I read the novel’s description, I had to dive into it. Moran’s novel follows the story of 19-year-old Johanna (who goes by the name of Dolly Wilde) and her misadventures as a music journalist in London during the mid-90s — particularly during the emergence of Brit-pop. The coming of age novel sees Johanna navigate through the sexual inequality of women in music (or in most industries) and how self-empowerment is essential for survival.
Moran’s writing style is absolutely incredible. Written in first-person, Moran allows readers to dive straight into the world of Johanna/Dolly and every single thought that crosses through her mind. The lens through which the story is presented in is complex and comprehensive. Johanna’s voice is also authentic and raw. Every aspect of Johanna’s narration or dialogue feels incredibly real — her words appear as if they were read to you by a close friend. There’s also a degree of humour to her voice, which adds to the conversational tone of the novel.
The inclusion of feminism and sexual empowerment was extremely relevant to current events in 2018. The book highlights the challenges women in men-dominated industries have had to face (and currently endure today). Moran’s take on the sexual exploitation of men was extensive and articulate. I found myself nodding at whenever Johanna or Suzanne stood up and spoke their truth. Johanna’s character is the ultimate heroine we all need.
I thrived off Suzanne calling out the BS-activities of misogynists. Suzanne’s drug-fuelled rants and eccentric behaviour was another highlight of the novel. Her character brought so much humour to the story that I wish that she also had her own stand-alone novel. Whether it was her one-liners or when she took over the microphone at an award show to defend her friend’s honour, I found myself obsessed with her character. Though Johanna was the book’s heroine, Suzanne is the best friend every badass girl needs by her side.
Moran has the ability to capture the everyday fears and ponderings of young women in any given time period. Her words have the power not only to entertain but to bring comfort to so many women, and for that reason, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Release date: June 28th 2018 by Ebury Press