This follow-up to “How to Build a Girl” is a funny, frank and tender look at a young woman coming into her own. Having “built the girl”, Johanna is now living alone in London, at 18, and writing for a popular rock and roll magazine. Traveling Europe to interview musicians and review gigs, she’s living the life she had dreamed of. But, trying to be true to herself is difficult as she tries to fit in both in the workplace and the London social scene. Desperate to be liked, she pours herself into whatever mold is necessary: the fun-loving, up for anything girl who men will want to have sex with, the thick-skinned “just one of the guys” for her misogynist male co-workers and the woman who her friend John will realize he is in love with.
Moran has created such a complex young woman here: Johanna is crass, earnest, sensitive, smart and often naive. She is a fierce friend and a loyal sister. Her frankness about sex and her own desires is refreshing. Her discoveries about herself and her sexual experiences is a very honest look at the confusion young women often sift through. Did I ask for it? Was it just a bad date? Is this just how it all works? Am I supposed to be enjoying this? It is a very honest and raw look at the many permutations of Me Too and the people pleasing role women are conditioned to play.
And at 19, I already have the sense that it is the job of women to simply absorb the unpleasantness that bad men dole out to us. If we stop doing this – revealing all the awfulness sloshing around – then all the good men would become sad, and anxious, on our behalf, and the world would consist only of bad men, and sad men, and be no fun at all.
Moran exposes the thin line between famous and infamous in the mid 90’s before reality television, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s the lead up to what will become the dangers of innocence in a world of internet anonymity. It’s hilarious, poignant and cathartic.