| Not bad and kept me reading. Paul O’Rourke is a mess. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour focuses on the world, society, religion and baseball. Paul wants to fit in the world but he can’t understand it. Basically Paul avoids having an internet presence and only uses it to check up on the Red Sox until someone makes a website for his dental practice and post about religion. He is pissed and wants to know why this is happening and by who, which he does find out, he is an Ulm. Most of the book focuses on what an Ulm is, his connection, whether or not it is a hoax and just him getting sucked more and more into it.This isn’t the first time he tried to find a place, he dated an employee of his and fell in love with Judaism. He loved the customs, the history and the sense of family, but he’s an atheist. Paul doesn’t understand why someone born into Judaism can be an atheist and a Jew, but not him (become a Jew while being atheist). He’s spending more time corresponding with people posting under his identity being consumed by it and people become concern over the statements his fake online self are saying. He just wants to figure out if there is any truth to what he is being told about the Ulms and himself.
This book makes you think about religion vs family/tradition while being humorous. For a book about society, religion, doubt, and faith it’s not preachy or favoring one opinion over the other. It is respectful. It’s also not a heavy read, its light and the plot moves along well, but it is still complex. I did feel like there was something missing towards the end, it gets jumbled up. It was going in all kinds of directions and circling around a message that wasn’t fully formed.
I can't decide between 3 stars or 4. So we'll say 3.5. I am unfamiliar with Caitlin Moran, I know the she wrote the book How to be a Woman and is somewhat a feminist activist. I wasn’t sure what to expect from How to Build a Girl, I thought it was biography/social science and it took me by surprise to actually be fiction. Johanna is from a poor family and trying to find herself, she also wants to get laid. She decides to try out a persona she calls Dolly Wilde, who is a cynic music critic and has outrageous conversations about sex.
I liked a lot about the book, the music mentioned, the attitude towards sex, and the overall coming of age story, but it felt unrealistic coming from a teenager perspective and that is because it isn’t. There are times in the story where Dolly/Johanna explain something and then mention how she sees it in hindsight, yet that isn’t part of the story. We are led to believe the perspective is being told by Johanna at the time it happens. So this just irritated me a bit. My second issue the absurd ideas Johanna has about her self and her role in sex. I get it can take people awhile to figure this out, but Caitlin went to the extreme. Everything else I loved, I laughed out loud at many parts. The plot has a good flow to it and it;s even though this is an extreme version of finding yourself it is relatable.