What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough ? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes - and build yourself.
It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes - but without the dying young bit.
By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.
But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?
I enjoyed this one, it reminded me of another book I read long ago. The whole swearing, drinking, fooling around and masturbating. It was vulgar, it was real. She was truly 14.
Johanna's family lives off benefits. She helps taking care of her siblings. She is fat, she hates it. People bully her at school. Then it gets worse and she invents a new personality. I liked Johanna cos she was real. Her new personality might not have been the best idea, but hey she was a teenager. She is bound to make reckless and stupid decisions, just like people at any age.
Her road takes her to writing music reviews. Drinking. Wanting to loose that stupid virginity, or hey at least getting kissed. She really went all in for her new personality. Though how everyone else fell for it I do not know. She was just 16 after all. She seemed too good too fast when it took off. Even with the mistakes.
Anyway, it was a really good book. It works just as well as YA as adult. There is humour, and it is well written
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 3rd 2014 by Ebury Press