It’s the fall of 1979 in a small Connecticut town and a 17-year-old girl who wears white go-go boots far beyond their cultural peak as well as vintage designer scarves, has just received a rejection letter from a New York City writing program. Her name is Carrie Bradshaw and she’s worried she’ll never be a real writer. Like most teenage girls–boys, friends and family add to her senior year drama.
That’s the basic premise of Candace Bushnell’s new book, The Carrie Diaries. Though it’s technically a young adult novel, grown-up fans of Sex and the City will appreciate seeing what created the 30-something sex column-writing, chain-smoking, serial dating Carrie that readers first met in the pages of Bushnell’s 1997 best-selling book. The Sex and the City movies (which Bushnell did not write) turned the beloved characters into caricatures, but The Carrie Diaries offers a satisfying, fun story that gives “our girl” a bit more depth.
The book gives readers a glimpse into Carrie’s immediate family, a topic barely touched upon in the series or movies. No parent and neither of Carrie’s two sisters attend her book launch or wedding, two life-changing events. Perhaps there’s a sad tale awaiting readers in the (sure to be coming) follow-up to the Carrie Diaries.
Bushnell is not the type of writer whose sentences inspire awe-struck re-reading because of their beauty and perfection. She is, however, the kind of writer who knows how to tell an entertaining, well-paced story. She liberally spreads little bits of future Carrie in the insecure teenager’s fashion choices, speech patterns (she calls her friends “sweetie” even back then) and relationships with the opposite sex. Sebastian Kydd most certainly paves the way for the arrival of Mr. Big later on in her life. Safe, predictable boys don’t stand much of a chance with teen Carrie or most other teenage girls.
Writers will be able to identify with young Carrie’s evolving mixture of confidence and insecurity about her writing. Ever the observer, as all good writers are, Carrie slowly learns how to transform her insightful and witty internal monologue into words on the page that others can understand and appreciate.
Like its grown-up counterpart, The Carrie Diaries contains sex, cigarettes and intense friendships, but toned down for the young adult audience. There are no actual sex scenes, just adolescent recaps of real and imagined escapades that focus more on feelings than graphic play-by-play action.
Sweet, satisfying and adorned with a dash of pink, The Carrie Diaries is a decadent treat for Sex and the City fans and people who just enjoy young adult fiction.
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