Carrie Pilby, by Caren Lissner

Publisher: Harlequin Teen; Original edition (July 1, 2010)

Format: Kindle Edition


Carrie Pilby isn’t your typical heroine.  She’s a disgruntled genius who graduated from Harvard at 19 and is living an aimless existence in Manhattan with no job, no friends, and no real desire to do anything. She doesn’t care about love, having had a failed relationship with her college professor, and her daddy pays all her bills so she has no impetus to do more than sleep her days away.  Her therapist suggests a list of things for her to do in order to get her life on track–the most notable of which are join an organization, make friends, and go on a date. Carrie spends the book attempting to do these things to appease the therapist and ends up finding the reasons to be happy with her life.


When the book started, I felt a sort of kinship with Carrie. You see, after graduating from NYU, I spent a year in NYC trying to figure my life out.  Granted, I didn’t have anybody footing my bills. Oh no, I worked at a ceramics shop in Soho selling overpriced pottery to wealthy housewives and would oftentimes eat just rice and soy sauce in order to survive, but still, I felt a certain amount of kinship nonetheless.

Carrie was refreshing.  She had an enormous vocabulary which is astonishing for a YA novel and luckily, the tone of the book didn’t make it feel out of place in any way.  It felt as if I, the reader, were actually privy to Carrie’s private thoughts, as if her internal dialogue were just appearing on the page for me.  But as the story progressed and Carrie tried to follow her therapist’s list to make her life better, she started to seem like less of a genius and more of a wishy-washy nitwit who was stuck in the past and based a lot of her present actions on poorly thought out ideas.  Prime example: when the therapist suggests she go on a date, Carrie places a personal ad in a weekly periodical and then can’t understand why only losers answer.  Please!  Who hasn’t heard of internet dating where you can pick the people you speak to and not the other way around? It just seemed too far fetched to be real.

Over time, her internal monologue stopped being fun and intelligent and became bitchy and self-serving.  Obviously, anybody’s internal monologue would start to seem that way over time, but in a book, I don’t want to read about a conniving, self-centered girl who does not exhibit any of the traits of being smart and simply does not change. That was another pet peeve of mine: Carrie didn’t change. Ever. Yes, she found love or at least the beginnings of one in a makeout session. Yes, she found a church to join and be an active part of. And yes, she made a tentative foray into friendship. But ultimately, she didn’t change.  That’s the fun of any novel–seeing the evolution of the main characters and enjoying their transformations.  Carrie was static throughout and she just annoyed me at the end because there was no transformation. She merely found people to like her in all her less than brilliant and bitchy glory.

I’ve never started out so thoroughly enjoying a book and then having that blow up in my face. But there has to be a first, right?

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 0.   Carrie was so promising but after constant exposure, her lack of apathy and general bitchiness made me hate her.

How much did I like the love interest: N/A. Who? We don’t see Cy very often (read: practically not at all) and what we do see makes us think he’s some cracked out homeless man in suspenders and a bowler hat.  Creepy!

How believable is the plot: 8. There are a lot of disaffected young women out there who feel way too intelligent for their peers but are trying to find their way in life.  That is what made the plot believable.  I could see this story actually happening and should have loved the book but my dislike of Carrie detracted from it.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. Caren Lessner is an extremely talented writer.  She creates a believable heroine and accurately portrays modern Manhatten.  Props for awesome editing and SAT worthy vocabulary.

How much did I want to keep reading: 1. You would think I would give this a negative number (like negative bagillion) but I can’t because for the first third of the book, I actually wanted to keep reading because I felt for Carrie and wanted to see her change her life.  Too bad she didn’t.

Final Score: 3.8 / 10

In the end, I liked the format and style of the book just not who it was about.

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