Friday, May 21, 2010

Guest Blogger, LG: Book Review - "The Carrie Diaries"

I came to the "Sex and the City" phenom as the show was wrapping up its TV run. My family didn't have cable, but when I got to college and one of my friends had the first two seasons on VHS, we'd throw viewing parties. Though we were all young and inexperienced in the dating department (all of us virgins at the time, too), we found the show utterly relatable--and totally addictive. I collected all of the seasons as they were released on DVD, and to this day still enjoy long marathon sessions watching the episodes. Suffice it to say, like countless women and men the world over, I'm a big fan of Carrie and company.

The lack of background on the characters always bothered me in the show, particularly with Carrie. I wanted to know how she became a writer. All you really get from the show is that her father left she and her mom when she was a kid. You don't know where she grew up, where she went to college, when she moved to New York, if her mother is alive, if she has siblings, or where she went to college--or even if she went to college. You also occasionally get snippets of information, such as how Carrie lost her virginity (on a ping pong table in some guy's basement in high school).

Last year I attended a lecture by Jennifer Weiner and Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell at the 92nd Street Y. Bushnell briefly mentioned her next project: The Carrie Diaries, a YA novel about Carrie in high school. My stomach flipped, my heart fluttered. I would finally get a look into the youth of my beloved fictional characters!

While TV-Carrie's man issues seem to reek of Absentee Father Syndrome, The Carrie Diaries takes a whole other direction. Fifty pages into the book, I felt betrayed. I felt like Bushnell had never even seen the TV show, certainly not as many times as I had. In the book, Carrie has two sisters, her mother is dead, and they're being raised by their overprotective father. Carrie is a little rebellious, which is fun to see, but there are quite a few disconnects between TV-Carrie and Bushnell's young-Carrie.

As a reader, I simply had to reconcile with this fact, and enjoy the book as a separate entity from the show. After all, Bushnell didn't write the teleplays for the show, she just created the characters in her iconic book of the same name. Despite the factual differences (Carrie graduates high school with her virginity in tact), the essence of the beloved character of TV and pages is embodied in this very fun read.

Young-Carrie makes so many mistakes that I found myself waving my imaginary hand, going "What are you doing?!" She's plagued by insecurities that every teenage girl faces, makes bad decisions, and possesses friends that are at times so bitchy (and real) that you wonder why she's kept them around and understand why they'd no longer be in her life come the start of the show (if this were chronological publication, of course). This young-Carrie is no Sarah Jessica Parker, and I loved that fact. Bushnell has stayed true to her original vision of a character that is completely hers, and lets readers wholly into the fictional world of a teenage version of one of the most iconic American characters of the last 20 years. Bushnell owns her character, and she never apologizes for making Carrie do or think anything that you may not like. This book is a complete success.

For fans of the show and the original book, I highly recommend. For anyone who likes a saucy little YA adventure, I also highly recommend.

Read an earlier post about The Carrie Diaries HERE

And don't forget to check out LG's blog, "Big Girl, Bigger City"

1 comment:

  1. best guest review yet;)
    Almost makes me want to read it...almost.