The Carrie Diaries
Author: Candace Bushnell
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Publishers
Published: April 2010
Rating: 3 of 5 stars = Good
Ages: 14 and up
New York Times Bestseller
Carrie Bradshaw, the character millions have loved in Sex and the City, is explored as a pre-New York teen in this Candace Bushnell bestseller. Fans of the show will be picking this one up to see what their favorite hyper-neurotic relationship columnist was like when she was growing up—what made Carrie Bradshaw become Carrie Bradshaw?
Readers will see in The Carrie Diaries glimmers of the Carrie later played so definitively by Sarah Jessica Parker. She is whiny, super-needy, man-hungry and overwhelmingly narcissistic. But, the difference in this book is the friends around her are not distinctly interesting in their own right, and do not balance the character flaws of Carrie with their own. So, instead of becoming endearing, the character just becomes annoying, leaving anyone who is reading this book in hopes of seeing a super-teen who was obviously going to become THE Carrie Bradshaw later in life disappointed—Carrie Bradshaw shows no signs of social greatness in The Carrie Diaries.
Also pointedly disturbing for the many fans of the show who will be reading this book are the facts that Carrie (1) lives with her father and sisters and (2) is practically a gourmet cook. The character of Carrie from the show not only never mentioned having siblings, but it was also made clear that her father left her and her mother when Carrie was only five. So, having this Carrie live with her sisters and widowed father starts things off on a questionable note. And, as far as cooking, the Carrie in NYC was infamous for her use of her oven as storage space for her clothing and shoes. But, young Carrie is not only a great cook, it seems that she loves it. When a friend comes for dinner, she doesn’t just order pizza: “I serve coq au vin, which takes me all day to prepare, but I’ve recently discovered that cooking is a great way to distract yourself from your problems while providing a sense of accomplishment,” (p. 357).
Still, for those reading this book as a separate entity with no expectations for pre-NYC Carrie—the audience for which I believe this book is intended—The Carrie Diaries is a standalone story and Carrie is just an everyday teenage girl. Why Candace Bushnell chose to take her in such a different direction is hard to say, but today’s teens, who should have been too young to follow Sex and the City in its heyday (and probably didn’t bother to follow-up on DVDs), will likely enjoy this teen Carrie and her world. But, for older readers who are looking for insight on the television character, it’s not here.
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