As we start Carrie Bradshaw's story (yes --- the Carrie Bradshaw, of the well-known “Sex and the City”TV show, film, and book), it's the first day of her senior year, and she has zeroed in on an intriguing guy. Sebastian Kydd begins attending Carrie's high school after years at a local private school. Carrie is glad for the distraction from her painful rejection from the New School Advanced Summer Writing Seminar in New York City. She has always wanted to be a writer, and the rejection, she fears, must mean she doesn't have the talent to carry out her dream. When she applied, she kept it secret from her family and her circle of close friends, so now she must mull over her failings alone.
Carrie realizes immediately that Sebastian is not really a stranger to her. In fact, they have a history --- although that history is quite brief and incredibly weird. When Carrie was 12, and in a gawky, awkward stage, she was also obsessed with feminism as laid out by an author named Mary Gordon Howard. Carrie's mother had been remodeling the Kydds’ kitchen, and one day Carrie accompanied her mother to the project. When cute Sebastian appeared, she was totally unnerved and blurted, "Mary Gordon Howard believes that most forms of sexual intercourse can be classified as rape." Not exactly a cherished memory…
Now, Sebastian appears to remember vaguely that his and Carrie's mother once were friends. He dances with Carrie at a party, then tells her he'll come visit her sometime at her home. Carrie is distracted by Sebastian, but can't help noticing that her friends are changing this year. Her close buddies, Maggie and Walt, have been together for years and have always included her on dates. Now Walt confides some intriguing facts about their romantic life. Meanwhile, the formerly nerdish Peter seems to be hanging around Maggie. Peter also challenges Carrie about her writing ambitions, suggesting she should write for the school newspaper since he is the editor. Sebastian seems interested in Carrie, but his attentions and messages are rather mysterious and muddled. Why does gorgeous Donna LaDonna seem to believe Carrie is poaching her property?
THE CARRIE DIARIES is an intelligent and well-paced page-turner. Carrie is frequently hilarious, such as when she's describing her well-meaning but rambling dad with his obscure discussions on how to handle life and relationships. She is also often wise and has some almost shockingly insightful comments about women. Concerning her friend Maggie's mom, she says: "Anita is really, really nice --- too nice, in fact. She's so nice that I always get the feeling the niceness has swallowed up the real Anita, and someday she's going to do something drastic, like burn down the house."
It is so enjoyable to spy the qualities in the teenaged Carrie that we see in the version of her adult self. We glimpse her future fashonista and learn how the beginnings of her journalistic career are motivated by revenge. Her love affair with "the city" is explored, answering the question of how the small-town girl landed in New York. Of course, the theme of friendship's importance is dominant; we wouldn't expect any different from Carrie at any age. THE CARRIE DIARIES concludes with a last line that is guaranteed to make any “Sex and the City” fan burst out laughing --- a fitting finale for a fabulous page-turner.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 26, 2011