Monday, December 3, 2012

The Carrie Diaries

The Carrie Diaries
Candace Bushnall
ISBN: 978-0061728914
Balzer + Bray, 2010

Plot Summary: This prequel to Bushnall’s adult Sex and the City, follows senior Carrie Bradshaw, a nerdy but smart and fashionably chic girl, in the undisclosed 1980s as she attempts to reach her dream of becoming a writer. Most of the book follows the typical dramas of high school life. Carrie doesn’t get into New York City’s New School writer’s program for the summer; she starts dating Sebastian, a hot boy who was kicked out of his prep school; she is mortal enemies with Donna LaDonna, the most popular girl who dated Sebastian first; and so on. There are parties and changes to friendships—Walt breaks up with Maggie after he catches her sleeping with Peter and confesses that he is actually gay, Carrie’s best friend Lali ends up stealing Sebastian and doesn’t express any remorse for doing so. All of this drama results in Carrie writing for the “lame” school newspaper an anonymous column about the cliques of high school and it becomes a hit. She uses these columns as portfolio evidence to get into the writer’s program at the New School. She makes up a little bit with Donna who tells her she should look up her cousin in New York, Samantha Jones.

Critical Evaluation: I never watched Sex and the City but I still enjoyed the book and think other teens would enjoy it if they can get past the fact that the book is based on a TV show for older women about older women who supposedly do nothing but drink and have sex. The writing is quick and witty. The book was interesting enough to make me want to actually check out the CW version that will be airing in January 2013, which also might spark a revival interest in the series among readers. However, the undisclosed era of the 1980s isn’t explained well until more than half way through the 400-page book and so some references might confuse the heck out of teen readers who think it is modern day and are tripped up by references to crushes on Leif Ericson and so on. There is a lot of teenage drug and alcohol use and blatant smoking even on campus. There is also a lot of sex talk as everyone but Carrie seems to have done it already and they keep asking her why she’s waiting. One thing that didn’t make sense is that to me, as the reader, Carrie comes off as a smart, honest, friendly girl but to Sebastian and Donna they say they don’t like her because she comes off as a bitch which I don’t get at all. Thus, the perspective of Carrie according to other characters seems way off from the perspective of readers.

Reader's Annotation: Meet Carrie Bradshaw when she was still in high school trying to become the future fashionista and journalist she is best known for in the TV series, Sex and the City.  

Author Information: Candace Bushnell is the critically acclaimed, international best-selling author of Sex and the City, Summer and the City, The Carrie Diaries, One Fifth Avenue, Lipstick Jungle, Trading Up and Four Blondes. Sex and the City, published in 1996, was the basis for the HBO hit series and two subsequent blockbuster movies. Lipstick Jungle became a popular television series on NBC. In September 2011, Warner Television and the CW optioned The Carries Diaries for television and One Fifth Avenue was optioned by the Mark Gordon Company and ABC for yet another television show (Bushnall, n.d.).  

Genre: Realistic

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas: Read a scene of Carrie going head to head with nemesis Donna LaDonna.  

Reading Level/Interest Age: 15+

Challenge Issues: Drugs, sex, homosexuality

Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:

·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
·        A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
·        Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
·        Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
·        Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at

Reason for Inclusion: Fun fluff novel that will appeal to older teens who have watched the TV version as well as newer teens who will watch the CW take in January 2013 of this book series and want to read the original novels. If it circulates well, the sequel, Summer in the City, is a must. Possibly keep an eye out for a third book if the show is a hit.


Bushnall, C. (n.d.). Candace Bushnall. Retrieved from

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