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More Than One Way to Be a Girl by Dyan Sheldon – character and author interview

Synopsis 

“Face it, Zizi. You’d be lost without your make-up and your girly clothes.” 

“And you think ‘feminine’ is a dirty word. You’re the one who’s never going to change, Loretta.”

“You want to bet?”

When Loretta and her best friend Zizi make a life-changing bet, one thing’a for sure: the summer is about to be turned upside down. 

Character Interviews 

 

Before you two were friends how would you have defined feminism?

 

Loretta: I would have defined it like this: Feminism is self-defense.

 

ZiZi: You see what I mean about Loretta, right? Everything gets exaggerated! How I would’ve defined it is: Wannabe guys with a limited sense of humour and not a lot of patience.

 

Describe your style.

 

Loretta: Immune to the pressures of a fashion industry that wants you to buy something new every week so it can make more money. And immune to the pressures of a society that thinks it has the right to tell you how to dress. Utilitarian and comfortable, but with colourful socks.

 

ZiZi: Fashionable and feminine, but (now) with practical shoes. When I look in the mirror I want to smile.

 

What do you admire most about the other?

 

Loretta: ZiZi’s unique. She may look like Miss Congeniality, but she’s opinionated, stubborn and for definite has a mind of her own. And she makes me laugh.

 

ZiZi: With Loretta, what you see is pretty much what you get. And what you get’s a real friend. Plus she has a great sense of humour, and if you get a flat tyre on a lonely road, she’s the girl you want next to you.

 

What do you think would be the hardest part of being a boy?

 

Loretta: In some ways, there are as many restrictions on guys as there are on girls – they’re just different restrictions. All that competition and pressure to Be a Man. And, as ZiZi would say, you can’t even go shopping or put on your favourite dress and those outrageous earrings to cheer yourself up.  

 

ZiZi: Having to wear boring clothes. Plus having to be tough and strong when really all you want to do is going under the duvet and cry.


Author Interview 

Are you more like Loretta or ZiZi? In what ways?

 

I’m probably more like Loretta. I often have the impression when a contentious topic comes up and I clear my throat that my friends are all wishing I wouldn’t say anything.

 

Describe your writing style.

 

That’s a question I’ve never been asked before. But, judging from editor and copy-editor comments I’ve had over the years, I’d say it’s idiosyncratic.

 

How many ways of being a girl do you have?

 

I don’t do the stilettos or the makeup, but otherwise I think I cover the range. I own both a food processor and a drill.


What I thought? 

This was such a fun read and I loved the characters of Loretta and Zizi and especially their friendship.

I found this a really accessible way to look at gender and feminist issues through the set up of a bet. 

More Than One Way to Be a Girl takes a slightly lighter hearted view of similar themes to that in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series and is perfect for the 13+ age group it’s aimed at. Relationships with boys feature, and believe me I shared Loretta’s annoyance when her relationship with her colleagues changed. 

MTOWTBAG is out now. 

I also had fun recreating the cover for #bookstagram, and below is a picture of me after checking my tyre pressures. Let’s just hope I never manage to put oil in the brake fluid ever again?! *disclaimer – this happened a long time ago. 


Huge thanks to Dyan for answering the questions and channelling Loretta and Zizi again and to Kirsten Cozens at Walker Books for the review copy. Opinions on the book are as ever are entirely mine. 

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Asking For It by Louise O’Neill – Book Review #NOTAskingForIt

First Sunday post of my new schedule and I even had real post delivered today – on a Sunday! Uncle Vernon would be fumigating right now.

Today’s book created another unusual experience for me too – a proper book hangover. Often, after a finishing a book, I can just pick up another not long after  – but, not after this one. It hung around in my brain for a while and has been a tickle there ever since. Please note that this review discusses sexual violence against women so if you find that triggering please don’t read on.

This is my first book from Louise but it won’t be my last. Everyone was talking about Asking For It on twitter and saying how important a read it is. They aren’t wrong but, the fact that that’s true, is.

This is Emma’s story of that time she went to a party in a tiny dress, drank too much, took some drugs and woke up the next morning, in pain, on her front door step. Pictures emerge – online of course – that showed what happened last night and everyone, including Emma herself, is asking – was she Asking For It. You might even be asking the same question.

The book is written from Emma’s point of view and her view is heartbreaking, the responses everyone has to her are illuminated through her internal narration. The person whose initial response made me the most angry was her brother, he comes round, but I couldn’t understand why what he saw would make him think what he does. Some have criticised the ‘repetition’ in this book. I’d suggest that this reflects the type of mental ruminating that might happen after a traumatic event.

I’m not going to tell you the outcome but needless to say this will never be the type of story with a typical happy ending.

Asking For It will make you angry – at society and even at yourself. I knew what this book was about and even found myself almost repeating this question – in fact had the book not added the scenes that Emma doesn’t remember, it would have probably have been a very difficult case to prosecute. I remember seeing the film The Accused with Jodie Foster when I was a lot younger and this book echoes that. Who are the accused? Not the rapists but the girl who “let herself” get in a position to be raped. We really need to change the question from What did she do? To Why did they do it?

Please put yourself aside a few hours to read this in one go – once you’ve started it you won’t want to put it down…and even after you’ve literally put it to one side, figuratively it’s going to stay with you.

People ask why do we need feminism – because we call books like this important. Because the cover of the girl as a Barbie doll to be played with and posed is reflected on the cover of numerous magazines and in clubs and at parties across the world. I look forward to the day that the story in this book is seen as a relic of the past! How can we make that a reality?

I was inspired by Georgia Blackheart @GeorgiaReads review graphic. She said I could borrow the idea so I made some review tweaks to the cover below.

Asking for it

Next Sunday Guest post from author Holly Webb as part of the Return to the Secret Garden Blog Tour

Coming Soon Review of Red Rising by Pierce Brown – sneak peek – I bloodydamn loved it!

Happy International Women’s Day

Women can be are strong,
crying does not make us weak;
but human,
the same goes for men.
 
You are a woman
if you are tall or short,
skinny or chubby,
mammaried, small, wonky or removed,
in dresses or trousers,
and simply if you identify as such.
 ….
Woman can be whatever they want,
in charge, on the way to the moon;
or followers, feet firmly on the ground.
At home, in work and both.
Woman can achieve things,
the vote, prizes, records,
and one day,
hopefully soon,
equality.
 ….
If you are a woman or
love a woman
or both.
If you were born from a woman
(yes that’s everyone)
then this day is important.
Celebrate the women in your life.
Celebrate the men too.
Celebrate yourself.
Make your happiness happen.
 …
Happy International Women’s Day to all of the fantastic women I know and all of the men that love them. This year’s theme is Make it Happen, let’s take a step closer to equality, #heforshe and #sheforhe. 

 

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