03 August 2014

How to Build a Girl - In Which We Do Not Have Nits

Last week I had a case of the Serious Mean Reds and couldn't function beyond Work/Come Home and Watch Merlin - a show which has managed to keep my attention despite 1) the use of the words "okay" and "wotcha" in Camelot, 2) the costumers use of zippers and bare shoulders, and 3) the writers completely ignoring Actual Pre-Medieval Behavior Guidelines whenever it suits them.

So this week I owe you two posts, and two posts you shall have!

Okay but for serious, first you need to pre-order this book because it is amazing. And then go thank Emily for the GIF-Fest that this readalong has become.

We begin with Johanna on a plane for the first time, and this whole sequence is adorable. She recognizes a thing that never fails to surprise me, too: it's always sunny above the clouds. This is the kind of "every cloud has a silver lining" cliche that should make me crazy, but doesn't because it's true. Awwww.

And then she falls in Teenaged Love with a Celebrity, which is surely the worst kind of love ever and paradoxically doesn't only happen to teenagers, as evidenced by the Victorian-lass-worthy swooning I did earlier this year over a person I will never, ever meet in real life (probably for the best...). Anyway. Back to Johanna, who is at least of a proper age for this kind of thing.

This book is mostly hilarious "oh god, I remember that bit of being a teenager...::cringe::", but it's peppered with heartbreaking moments that feel familiar and... not... all at once. Johanna carefully brings her father a glass of Guinness from Ireland - one of those pre-2001 things that will absolutely confuse younger readers - and his reaction is merely, "Christ, that's flat." Christ, I would like to flatten YOU, sir. Do you not see the gesture she is trying to make? The approval she is trying to win? That she lost her father the day he fell off that building, and now she's lost her mother to post-partum depression and she's struggling in a family raised by ghosts and being a teenager is just. so. awful. already you are making it worse and giving me italics?

I slap you! 
And then, everything that Johanna feared comes to pass. Her father's benefits are being reduced, and... oh my heart. Oh, Johanna. This cannot be your fault. Caitlin couches her extremely pointed, very cogent remarks about poverty behind an extra layer of novelization - John Kite's remarks in a magazine article - but they are powerful, nonetheless. And how will Lupin ever discover who killed Laura Palmer? Spoiler: he won't. But neither will we, so you dodged that one, kid.

And now, Johanna, we need to have a sit-down discussion about your Drink of Choice. Don't worry, it'll be quick:

Class dismissed.
How you made it onto your train after a bottle of MD 20/20, five gins, and whatever else came afterward will be a matter of cognitive dissonance forever more. Was it one of those magical nights when you can drink everything in sight and not get shitfaced? Because I've had those. They're fantastic and you can't plan them or trust that they'll ever happen again. The one thing you can trust is that they will assuredly not be those nights in your 30s and you've waited for 3 months for all of your friends with babies to have babysitters on the same night and you finally get together. Nope.