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The Carrie Diaries

A book by Candace Bushnell

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The Carrie Diaries - A Connecticut Schoolgirl in Manolo Blahnik's Court

  • Jan 31, 2011

"Meet Carrie before Sex and the City." That's what it says on the cover of Candace Bushnell's The Carrie Diaries, a prequel to that other book that launched the popular HBO series of the same name. The idea interested me. After all, "Sex and the City" offered us little information about Carrie Bradshaw's background or her early days in the city, dispensing only small clues couched in glib one-liners such as, "I came to New York wearing Candie's," and "Sometimes I'd buy Vogue instead of dinner; I felt like it fed me more."

I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I found. The Carrie Diaries takes place during Carrie's senior year in high school in a small Connecticut town, and it's all about those staples of high school drama, namely cliques, crushes, hookups, and back-stabbing best friends. It seems geared toward thirteen year-olds (for all I know, maybe it is) and makes me glad that high school is far behind me. Furthermore, some of the details don't match up with those in the TV series and the two subsequent movies. For example, it turns out that Carrie is the oldest of three girls. Her father is a doting scientist and her mother has passed away. Yet there's an episode of "Sex and the City" in which Carrie blames her problems with men on her dad who ran out on her (which makes a lot more sense than her having a nice dad and a normal middle class upbringing when you think about it). Also, the second Sex and the City movie features a flashback showing how Carrie met each of the other girls. She bumps into Charlotte first, on a subway, Miranda second, in a department store, and Samantha third, when Samantha's still a diamond-in-the-rough bartender. Yet in The Carrie Diaries Carrie is dropped off by her father in the city only to have her purse stolen (to Bushnell's credit, this does happen in the movie), and is forced to borrow change to call a friend's cousin -- who just happens to be Samantha, who is already a successful advertising executive. These are all subtle discrepancies, I know, but it's hard to believe in characters when their back stories flip-flop like that.

Still, even disappointing stories have redeeming qualities, and The Carrie Diaries is no different. I enjoyed the parts about Carrie becoming a fashionista and a writer. An edgy girl in a conservative town, she wears vintage white go-go boots the first day of school (much to the horror of her best friend) and reinvents a destroyed designer handbag left to her by her mother by painting her name all over it in pink nail polish. Always creative, Carrie has been dreaming up stories since elementary school, but it isn't until she meets college boy George (no, not that Boy George) that she realizes the value of the old adage "write what you know" and begins documenting her own experiences in her high school's newspaper. Finally, we catch a glimpse of Carrie's budding feminist outlook as she relays memories about her mother, who went back to college for her architecture degree after having children, and who always taught her daughters that feminism isn't about being anti-feminine, but about living the life that you want. I liked that part. Critics and viewers have always argued about whether or not "Sex and the City" sends a feminist message. As in, are these women falling into the old trap of being obsessed with their appearance and attracting men? Or, are these women bending the rules of society, refusing to be tied down by husbands and children to build careers and do their own thing? As someone who's always been in the latter camp, I thought this section of The Carrie Diaries tied in nicely with the way Carrie's adult life unravels.

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review by . June 30, 2010
The Carrie Diaries chronicles the senior year of high school of one Carrie Bradshaw (best well known from Bushnell's Sex and the City: the book, tv show, and movies), and her quest to find out who she is and where she's going. This is 1980 something, and Carrie's pretty sure she wants to be a writer, but is very sure she doesn't know precisely how to get there. Along the way, Carrie experiences her best friends and their dramas, a father doing his best to raise his three daughters, and a serious …
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Tracy Esposito ()
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Grade 9 Up—In the 1980s, Carrie Bradshaw is the oldest of three girls who live with their widowed father. She is on the swim team, wants to attend a summer writing program in New York, has applied to Brown, and is the last of her girlfriends to still have her virginity. When the rakish Sebastian Kydd returns to town, all the girls in the school become distracted, but he seems to have his eye on Carrie, at least until her best friend begins to take notice of him. The action is lightweight: senior pranks are played, dates are prevalent, friendships are tested, and Carrie keeps letting boys run rampant over her. It takes most of the book for her to stand up for herself. This protagonist is clearly written to resemble her older self as portrayed in the TV seriesSex and the City. She spends the novel questioning relationships; worrying about friendships; developing a funky, independent sense of fashion; flirting with boys while dating two at once; and having a gay male friend. The author is known for writing frivolous, adult chick-lit books and she does not stray from that style here. While toning down the antics that take place in her adult books, she still writes about partying, drinking, smoking (cigarettes and dope), sex, and shoplifting, making this book best suited to older teens looking for a diversion.—Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT
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ISBN-10: 0061728918
ISBN-13: 978-0061728914
Author: Candace Bushnell
Genre: Teens
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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