BOOK REVIEW: CAITLIN MORAN – HOW TO BE FAMOUS

*This review may contain small spoilers*

I’ve recently just read the first book in this series, How To Build A Girl and I loved it. I was so eager to read it before the second one, this one, How To Be Famous was released. I loved Caitlin’s writing in the first book – I loved the characters, the witty dialogue, the warmth, the heart. I just adored it so I was very excited to grab a copy of How To Be Famous – and even got this gorgeous signed and blue sprayed edges from Waterstones. It’s just a beautiful book. So, what’s the sequel about? Here’s the blurb:

I’M JOHANNA MORRIGAN.
I’M NINETEEN, IT’S 1995,
AND I LIVE IN THE EPICENTRE
OF BRITPOP.

I share a laundrette with one of Blur, and have takeaway spaghetti bolognese for breakfast, every day – because I can. Parklife!

As ‘The Legendary Dolly Wilde’, I write a column for The Face about being surrounded by people getting fame wrong. Not least my long-term and unrequited love, John Kite. When his album goes to Number One, he explodes into a Booze And Drugs Hell, as rockstars do.

More sinister is hot young comedian Jerry Sharp. ‘He’s a vampire,’ my friend Suzanne warns. ‘He destroys bright young girls. Also, he’s a total dick.’

But by that point, I’ve already had sex with him. Bad sex.

And I’m one of the girls he’s trying to destroy. He needs to be stopped.

BUT HOW CAN ONE GIRL STOP A POWERFUL, FAMOUS MAN?

I really enjoyed this book. Just like Caitlin’s other writing, whether that be her novels, non-fiction books, her columns, her writing is always so engaging and completely brilliant. When I was reading this book, I could just see the passion oozing off the page word by word. You can really feel that this is a personal, passionate project for Moran who really cares about her characters and the messages she wants to come across.

In some cases, a sequel ruins the entire first book. It’s not needed. It’s just there for the sake off it. But not in this one. This one naturally flows from the first and you are still rooting for Johanna/Dolly, if not, even more in this one. I thought the plot around Jerry Sharp was interesting, important and well-written. And, of course, very topical at the moment. And, a brilliant resolution too that wraps it up nicely.

In this second book, we were introduced to some new faces, notably Suzanne. I loved Suzanne. I thought she was just a brilliant character and a breath of fresh air. And just exactly the friend that Johanna needed. When reading, I was trying to think who would be cast in the movie… still haven’t got an idea. But, along with Krissi, Suzanne is now a firm favourite of mine.

Of course, another big plot (chunk of the book) is Johanna and her relationship with John  Kite. This has taken a beautiful leap from the first one and we can really see their relationship progress into something beautiful. There are just some gorgeous prose in this book and most of that comes with the two of them in a hotel room. Talking about life, literature, music, each other. In the hotel room in New York in the midst of their beautiful words, they cement their relationship. I loved this quote:

A kiss, I sometimes think, isn’t really instigated by one person, or another. A kiss is a third party that floats through the room, if the atmosphere is correct, and just involves whoever’s around in its mad kissing-schemes.
One second before, we were not in a kiss. We were in the pre-kissing world.
A second later, and my old life was over, and I know – as I had always suspected – that kissing John Kite is the greatest luxury there is.

This book is incredibly important for teenage girls, which Moran champions in and outside of this book. With Johanna, there’s a real, authentic female character. She isn’t perfect, but isn’t that the point of growing up, discovering who you are? Moran writes so well about sex, relationships, body issues, falling in love, speaking up. In this novel, Johanna found her own voice, even underneath Dolly Wilde. She found her voice, and she spoke up.

This is a great book and a brilliant sequel that flows from the first and transports you back into Moran’s world. You care for these characters (except Jerry Sharp, obviously), you root for them and want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next. It’s a book full of warmth, wit and brilliance that you would expect from Moran.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next…

You can read my review of How To Build A Girl, here.

Have you read How To Be Famous yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks,

Corey.

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