Review: Summer in the City

Summer in the City by Candace Bushnell. Sequel to The Carrie Diaries (2010). Balzer & Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins. 2011. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Summer in the City picks up right where The Carrie Diaries left off: seventeen year old Carrie Bradshaw is in New York City for a summer writing program. She’s just been mugged and has called the only number she has, a cousin of a semi-friend. Carrie goes with Samantha Jones to a party, and thus begins Carrie’s introduction to New York City in the 1980s.

The Good: If The Carrie Diaries was about Carrie becoming a writer, Summer in the City is about Carrie becoming a New Yorker. Her pocketbook may have been stolen within her first half hour in New York, but Carrie doesn’t hold that against the city. Instead, she plunges into life in the city in a way that is fearless, admirable, bold, and, at times, risky.

Carrie says yes to everything, it seems, accepting any invitation, going to any party, embracing life. She knows very few people in New York, so, also, when it comes to people (whether its friends or potential love interests) she plunges forward, following up on even the most casual “call me.” Carrie builds a family around her, a family of friends, because she isn’t afraid. Or, rather, she is afraid: afraid of being just like everyone else. Afraid of returning home a failure. Afraid of time ticking relentlessly by.

Carrie only has a few months before she has to leave for her freshman year at Brown, and, to be honest, she’s more interested in enjoying the city than in her writing. As time ticks down on her limited time, she concentrates more on her writing, hoping that if she writes a memorable play it will convince her father to let her forgo Brown and instead stay in the city.

As I mentioned in my review of The Carie Diaries, this is a prequel to the book, not the HBO series and movies. At Salon, a 1996 review reminds readers what the original Sex and The City book (not movie) was about. Yes, I read Summer in the City looking for references to Sex and the City — but the book.

Carrie is just out of high school, and her summer is magical; New York City is her playground, and she plays. She has disappointments and heartbreak, yes, but we all know that Carrie will become a New Yorker. It’s fun to see just how that happens.

Enjoy this series? The CW has picked it up as a TV series for the fall. 

Other reviews: Reading Rants; EW’s Shelf Life Author Interview.


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