My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
The Carrie Diaries was a frustrating read for me. There is a lot of potential between the pages of this adolescent prequel to Sex in the City, but the terrible writing along with the format of the whole piece just degraded the overall experience. Mind you, I’ve never seen Sex in the City, so I won’t be doing a comparison at all.
Taking place in the 80s, we get to read about Carrie Bradshaw’s senior year in high school. It has everything that you would expect a teenage girl’s diary to have. There is drama with friends, boys, and the looming stress of college as you try to figure yourself out for the long ride of life ahead. Because of these elements, there are times in the book where Carrie comes off as very intelligent and maybe even slightly mature for her age, but the very next minute she says something that contradicts her entire argument. I understand that teens (not all, but many) can be quite indecisive, especially where popularity and romance is concerned, however. The execution of this wavering way of thinking began to grate on my nerves after a short while. There were moments when I just wanted to grab Carrie by the shoulders and tell her to stop being such a self- absorbed moron.
Since the story takes place in the 80s, there are some very interesting topics that come up in the novel. For example, the 80s were a time where women were finally breaking out on their own for empowerment and self-discovery. The vast majority of that started up in adolescence. We have the older generations who still believe in the happy-housewife lifestyle, and then this new generation where the fashion is wild and the desire to experience something new and exhilarating is just so damn tempting. Carrie is very much the latter. Throughout the book whenever she reminisces about her mother and how much her mother had taught her to be strong and independent were the parts that really struck my interest. These were the portions of the book that made me feel like the ability for great writing exists somewhere within Candace Bushnell, our dear author.
Another area of potential that I came across was whenever Carrie discussed her yummy-boy crush. Circumstances arise and he turns out to be a total d-bag. Mentally, our blonde protagonist does understand why he’s a total ass, but sometimes she is so hung up on her physical attraction to him that it made me wonder if girls’ are really this stupid? The reason I call this an area of potential is because it would have made a fantastic examination of when a teenage girl finally realizes the importance of self-worth over the acceptance of a man who doesn’t even respect her. I feel that if these sections were written a little bit more seriously it would have given the book, as well Carrie’s character, a lot more substance.
Sex. Sex is underlying theme in this book and its impact on our character is another pouch of potential that I saw getting squished into nothingness. Her friends are all doing it and she hasn’t had an opportunity for it yet. I hated that she tossed in the towel and felt like a loser because she isn’t having sex. Whenever the topic of sex arises in her contemplative monologues, I’m expecting Carrie to admit that it’s okay that she’s not doing it. That she’s not ready and it doesn’t bother her, or that if it bothers her then it’s because of so-and-so reasons. Yet again, she starts up on something substantial but it hastily withers into a whiny ramble that makes me wanna yell at her for being an idiot. This is an area that I feel almost every teenage girl can relate to and has issues with, even today. Maybe that’s why I wanted there to be so much more to this part. If a young girl picked this book and read it, she could see she’s not alone with her weird and conflicted thoughts on sex and understand it’s okay to not be like everyone else. But alas, disappointment ensued.
While I did find many things within The Carrie Diaries to be very interesting food for thought, I just could not get past the bad writing, nor the format, which is very much like a diary. Each chapter starts off on a completely different scene and time, which sometimes made you feel a bit lost because the previous chapter would end so abruptly. Given the content, I strongly believe the “diary” format may not have been the wiser choice for this book. You can still write first-person perspective without it being a diary. The choppy chapter endings made me feel as if the author just gave up on the scene and was ready for a change of pace. I’ve read lots of diaries and journal-format books in my life and this was just a poor way of representing it. Overall, The Carrie Diaries was a huge disappointment for me. Which is a shame, because the show (which is vastly different than the novel) was pretty decent. Two and half leg warmers outta five.