Oh boy…what to say. I alternated between disliking and loving this book practically every other chapter. In the end I think I finally decided that I liked it but do yourself a favor and read it at a beach while you’re slathered in sunscreen. I think it will come off in a more positive light with a little personal atmosphere.
One of the problems I had with The Carrie Diaries was simply that it would have been much more interesting had it not been framed as a Young Adult novel. Now, before anyone jumps down my throat I adore YA. I eat it up weekly with a fork and spoon, but since the general audience of Sex and the City is decidedly not the 13-17 set in 2010 (or maybe it is…I think they’re more in-tune to Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber at the moment though) it doesn’t seem to make sense to release the title as YA. Why not spice it up a bit and ship it off to the adult market ? Just because YA is super hot right now doesn’t mean that every mainstream author needs to release books in the genre. It’s total overkill.
That being said it was entertaining to watch Carrie morph into shades of the woman, writer, and fashionista that she becomes later in life. I feared that the outfits Bushnell would describe her wearing would sound way too much like a Claudia Kishi out take from a Baby-Sitters Club book but much to my chagrin clothes weren’t really mentioned very much. Carrie sports a mink stole of her grandmother’s at one point and has the dead animals heads drink beer at a bar — that’s about as quintessentially Carrie as the fashion gets. It’s been a long time since I read the original book though so I may be basing my thoughts on how the character should dress a little too much on the Carrie from the television show.
The Carrie Diaries opens in Carrie’s senior year of high school. The class of 1980 is filled with your typical cliques and Carrie pals around with some interesting characters including:
Mouse — the brainy plain friend
Lali — the competitive frenemy
Maggie — the neurotic romantic
Walt — the gay BFF (who only comes out half way through the book but believe me this isn’t really a spoiler as you’ll see it coming a mile away)
Sebastian Kydd — the bad boy
Sound familiar? Yes, it’s all a little too cookie cutter. The strength of the book was almost always internal scenes where we are granted access to Carrie’s inner thoughts, feelings, and confusion over her future: to go to Brown or not to go to Brown, whether or not to lose her virginity, and how to deal with her broken family. Yes, Carrie actually has a family. Two younger sisters, a scientist father who cries at the drop of a hat, and a dead mother.
The love interest, Sebastian Kydd, (to be frank) is a total dick and it’s excruciating watching Carrie attempt to date him. He’s definitely no Mr. Big.
In the end what I enjoyed the most was the sprinkling of 70s and 80s references to pop culture and I loved that Carrie and her friends were constantly going to their small town’s local bar, The Emerald. Yes, once upon a time the drinking age used to be 18. In case you’re wondering Carrie’s signature drink is the Singapore Sling. Every time she ordered one I cracked up and my stomach churned a bit as I recalled my early drinking days of hideous Midori and Whiskey Sours.
Fans of the book, television show, and movies (of which I most decidedly am) will undoubtedly enjoy this book even with the flaws, and those of you who haven’t had conversations with your girlfriends trying to decide if you’re a Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, or Charlotte should definitely stay clear. I hope the next book is about Charlotte. I can’t wait to hear all about her tennis lessons and pearl shopping.